Portraits and self-portraits are prevalent in the oeuvre of Carel Willink (1900-1983). In 1961, he painted this portrait of Ms Huijsmans-Evers (1918-1989) – a doctor in microbiology based in Amsterdam, and herself an amateur painter.
Willink painted commissioned portraits solely for the money, bu
...t that didn’t stop him becoming a master of the genre. He became the most famous, popular and expensive Dutch portraitist. This portrait of Ms Huijsmans-Evers cost 6,000 guilders in 1961, but the asking price for the same size had nearly doubled five years later. In the 1970s, the price of a Willink portrait even rose to 60,000 guilders. During his career, Willink made a total of 85 portraits, of which 41 on commission.
Before the war, Willink himself often appeared in his paintings. His family and friends also offered inspiration, although it is not always clear whether he immortalised them as subjects of a portrait, or as extras. The commissioned portraits – which he started painting in 1941 – provided him with income during and after the war. Willink was the director of his portraits, and of his ‘independent’ works, meticulously determining every part of the composition.