A versatile artist

Wijnand Otto Jan Nieuwenkamp (1874-1950) was a multifaceted artist: a graphic artist, painter, architect, boat builder, writer, explorer, art collector and ethnographer, who around 1900 he still occupies a special place among artists of the 1900s.

Nieuwenkamp was very independent and headstrong. He was unconcerned about people’s opinions and ploughed his own furrow. He worked very hard. At the age of 24 yrs he married his distant cousin Anna Wilbrink and had three daughters and a son: Marianne, Willem, Maria and Fernande (Ferry).

Travelling and wandering
Nieuwenkamp’s journeys provided the inspiration for his works. Before 1897 he travelled around the Netherlands and Europe. Later he went to the Malay Archipelago and took part in a number of expeditions lasting several years. He visited Bali six times and stayed there many years. In 1898 he built a beautiful houseboat, named De Zwerver which took him and his family right across the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In 1910 he finally settled in Edam, only to leave again for Italy in 1920 where they were to stay until his death.
His motto: Vagando Acquiro (while wandering, I acquire).

He is not easily satisfied

‘… I often destroyed my paintings, cut them into pieces or even burned them, especially in my early years because the fact that I was not in any way satisfied with the results of all my hard work made me desperate. I just had not developed the necessary skills yet and I did not know that one has to change a painting’s composition and colour, in progress, endlessly. And that so in the end the results will always be satisfactory… ‘.

‘… In the beginning I was still far too attached to the etching technique, where each variation was extremely difficult to create, and required much effort, while in wood cuts this was often quite impossible to obtain…’

From: Paintings’ catalogue, 1948 (looking back to when he first started oil painting)