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Carel Willink

Camel in the Park at Versailles, 1956

Inspired by the animals in the Amsterdam zoo Artis, between 1950 and 1962, Carel Willink (1900-1983) made a series of paintings of exotic animals in unexpected surroundings. He captured a range of animals, including rhinos, giraffes, anteaters, birds of prey, snakes, yaks, lamas, marabous and zebras ... . ‘The animal isn’t strange, there’s nothing striking about the landscape. The combination of the two just feels alien’. In 1956, he painted this camel between the statues in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles in France. ‘It made Willink sad to see animals locked up, and he enjoyed relocating them in beautiful parks’, his widow Sylvia Willink-Quiël (1944) later explained. Willink took photographs of the animals at the zoo before making preliminary studies in his studio. For the backgrounds, he drew inspiration from journals such as the National Geographic, pictures in newspapers and his own travel photographs. If you look closely, you’ll see that the first statue to the left of the camel is the same as that in the foreground of Terrace with Pergola, seen from a slightly different angle. Willink revisited his photographs, but he always put the statues in a different setting, creating another unique scene.
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Carel Willink
Camel in the Park at Versailles
Oil on canvas
75 x 65 cm (h x w)
Type of object
© Pictoright/Sylvia Willink

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