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Our art collection

At Van Lanschot, we feel that art has a very clear purpose: to give new insight, spark an emotion, perhaps even to get us to ponder our place in the universe. Our is a broad art collection, as all works of art – photos, ceramics, paintings or drawings – have their own story to tell.

That said, our collection does stand out for a number of themes that we have a particular focus on, the ‘world of finance’ being one. 

From its very beginnings, the existence of money has given rise to criticism of the materialism, speculation or niggardliness that money can fuel. We collect works of art that visualise this tension, dating from the 16th century right up to today. In addition, we own an exquisite collection of landscapes from the halcyon days of this country’s Golden Age.

Le Saule

The pollard birch in this small panel is more than just a tree. It’s the portrait of a tree; its branch contortions almost suggest that the tree is speaking. A silent witness to everything that changes around it, from spring to winter, year in, year out.

Vincent van Gogh painted this perhaps more aptly named ‘portrait’ in the autumn of 1884, just before he departed for France and discovered the oranges and pinks of the impressionists. Many people much prefer his later, more colourful work. But even if this seems a very dark panel, it has colour everywhere, even in the darkest parts of its bark. Perhaps that’s precisely what makes this panel – its subdued but genuine use of colour. As a Brabant-based bank, we’re hugely proud of owning a beautiful panel by the biggest artist our province has produced.

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Temptation of St. Anthony

Imps, monsters and misshapen creatures, mystical use of colours and a biblical theme make this small panel a delight to eye and mind alike. A closer look reveals human shapes to the left and right of the tableau, pointing to a different image below the surface.

Technical research has shown there to be at least one or perhaps even two different drawings below this painting of St. Anthony. We have no idea what, though, nor who created it or them. Hieronymus Bosch’s studio was a large one, and many pupils might be working on the same painting at any one time. The studio was like a business, with Bosch’s art as its output. The findings of this technical investigation are due to be published in 2016, the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death – we can hardly wait.

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Figure

This 1951 painting by Karel Appel (1921-2006) is in true Cobra style: a solid, controlled contour of a primitive figure with bright, earthy and unvarnished colours.

It’s one of the last understated and controlled works Appel created; after the demise of the Cobra movement in 1952, he developed a rather more ‘barbaric’ style in which he would fling paint at a canvas in a primal scream, as it were. Appel had been influenced by Abstract Expressionism on his trips to New York, but insisted he’d never painted purely abstract works.

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Die Hutte und der Heuschober

Rembrandt van Rijn is arguably the most famous artist this country has ever known. Although his fame is largely based on imposing paintings such as the Night Watch or his highly realistic self portraits, the genius of the man is best glimpsed in his etchings.

This etching of a small farmhouse is unparalleled in its detail and finish – we can almost smell the hay and hear the birds sing. Rembrandt had the talent not to let the moment slip away, to unite head and heart and so indelibly capture the sight of the hut and the haystack. In fact, he gave this simple farmhouse an added dimension, creating a ‘genuineness’ perhaps more intense than reality itself.


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Gemengde papavers II

Marc Mulders is a painter, water colourist, photographer and glass artist. This artist pur sang is inspired by nature right through to the human veneration of the divine.

This painting of poppies in full bloom was probably done in the summer. Mulders often paints flowers, including tulips, irises and roses, while the autumn typically sees him paint animals in the wild, such as pheasants and hares. Not sidestepping the inevitability of mortality, Mulders’s paintings capture death as much as they do life, and beauty is intrinsic to all of them – not consciously painted but simply his perception of beauty in every single moment. All is well, all is beautiful, as there is no other way to be.

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The tax collectors

Little is known about the life of Zeeland-born Marinus van Reymerswaele, except that he didn’t think very highly of bankers, notaries and tax collectors – as captured perfectly in his painting The tax collectors.

The painting mocks bureaucratic stinginess, avarice and self-interest, with the two men dressed in absurd clothes and the one on the left even wearing a lady’s hat. Personifying the miser, the man on the right is counting his revenues, squinting and with a sly smile plastered on his face. There are at least sixty versions of this painting, as its composition and theme were very popular. After all, these people symbolised evil, as a popular Brabant ditty from the same time spells out:

‘Een woekereer
Een meuleneer,
Een wisseleer,
Een tolleneer,
Zijn de vier evangelisten van lucifer.’

(A usurer, A miser, A money changer, A tax collector are Lucifer’s four evangelists.)

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After Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Battle of the Moneybags and Strongboxes

Pieter Bruegel the Elder created the original this etching is based on. Never before had anyone had moneybags and strongboxes battle it out. Most of these ‘money carriers’ are fuming, and they’re laying into each other with swords, knives and lances in total chaos.

The description at the bottom reads: ‘Tis al om gelt en goet, dit flitten en twisten’ (‘It’s all about money and property, these fights and quarrels’). Fears of the dangers of greed and avarice ran high in Antwerp, the busy Northern European trading town where Bruegel spent most of his career. The print may be signed ‘P. Bruegel’, but it was probably not released until after the artist’s death in 1569. The ‘Auxquatre Vents’ refers to the At the Four Winds firm responsible for printing many of Bruegel’s engravings after 1570.

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Doily

At first glance and from a distance, we seem to be looking at a stately, serene portrait of a long bygone age. Close up, this turns out to be a photograph of a breathtakingly beautiful young woman of around 25, and she isn’t wearing a lace collar but a stack of decorative paper put under cake in the Netherlands today.

The woman in the picture is the photographer’s own daughter, whom he follows with his camera as she grows up. He has taken countless unique pictures that seem to walk a line between dignity and playfulness, and it’s this contrast that captures our attention time and time again; we never get bored. The photographer has told us that it’s never been a conscious decision to imitate old masters such as Vermeer, but that he simply can’t help himself. It’s his pictorial vocabulary, the Dutch heritage in his genes. And that’s also why Van Lanschot has recently purchased the photo for its collection, as the portrait unites the past and the present. It’s what we do at Van Lanschot every day; never forgetting our past, we devote our complete attention to our now.

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The siege of 's-Hertogenbosch 1629

Between April and September of 1629, Frederik Hendrik of Orange fought to retake ’s-Hertogenbosch from the Spaniards, a seemingly impossible task in view of the massive ramparts surrounding the city and the marshes just outside the city walls. Frederik Hendrik decided to slay the ‘marsh dragon’ by rerouting three rivers and had mill after mill built to pump out the water – some 24,000 soldiers did the job in the space of three weeks.

This painting was done by Amsterdam artist Micker a few years later and represents what Micker thought it must have been like, drawing on his own imagination of the siege. A seminal piece in our collection, the painting captures one of the most important moments in the history of ’s-Hertogenbosch – as a proud Brabant bank, we feel it’s important that we never forget where we came from.

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Sammer

This 1965 painting by Jan Sierhuis (1928-) dates back to his purely abstract expressionist days, when he expressed feelings and narrative in nothing but shape and colour. An Amsterdam artist, Sierhuis was greatly influenced by Cobra and the experimental movement, but was too young to really be one of them.

The colours in this painting tell their own story, sparkling yellow alongside grassy greens and tomato reds – a joy to behold without needing to represent anything. Perhaps this is what our souls look like at the end of a joyous summer’s day. Sierhuis’s strength is that he captures emotions that we soon forget, as we can’t express them in words.

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