Jan Mankes (1889-1920) painted this Self-Portrait in 1915, at the age of 26. That same year he married his great love Annie Zernike (1887-1972), the first female minister in the Netherlands. In March 1916 – by then the couple was living in The Hague –, Mankes developed the first symptoms of tuberc
After Mankes’ death in 1920, the art critic and later museum director Abraham (Bram) Hammacher (1897-2002) wrote the following about this self-portrait: ‘This is the one who beholds too much, who is sick of consummate contemplation, who is already leaving. And in his glance lies all the wonder of the world, which his eyes still see, while inwardly he is already gone,’ at least that was the reasoning in retrospect, because this self-portrait dates from before the diagnosis. Annie believed even though his health was poor, and he was physically weak, Jan was mentally strong and grounded, and perhaps felt more intensely than others.
Mankes knew early on that he wanted to become an artist. When he was fifteen, he moved with his parents to Delft, where he began working in ’t Prinsenhof, a studio for stained glass. He then took a drawing course at the Art Academy in The Hague. In 1908, Mankes decided to make a living as an independent artist.
Text: Evelien Verheij, collection coordinator
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Oil on canvas
24.5 x 20 cm (h x w)
Type of object
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