3 years in the life of a shadowy Dutch artist in a cloak and hat. The revealing 1800s visual diaries of Christiaan Andriessen. The Amsterdam Drawing Academy wouldn’t let him draw female nudes so he left to set up a studio at home.
Between 1805 and 1808, the Amsterdam artist Christiaan Andriessen kept a diary; a visual diary with over 700 drawings and watercolors depicting the the goings on in his life, with his friends, family and events in the city. Christiaan came from a family who encouraged his artistic pursuits; his father was the Dutch decorative painter, graphic artist and teacher, Jurriaan Andriessen (1742-1819). Jurriaan was also a meticulous diary keeper and the Rijksmuseum holds 20 years of his diaries. Perhaps that’s where his son got the diary keeping habit. Christiaan initially attended the Amsterdam Drawing Academy but left after the insititution refused to allow the drawing of female nudes from life. He and his father founded a college in their home where the young Christiaan could draw and paint naked ladies to his heart’s content. At the time of the diary, Christiaan’s father was partially paralysed by a stroke he suffered in 1799 and his sister, Naatje was ridden with gout.
The dark figure we often see from the back? That’s him. Christiaan often represents himself as a shadowy figure, sometimes wearing a hat and/or a cloak. He smokes a pipe which, in one drawing, he lights using a magnifying glass and the sunshine that streams in through his study window. The entries feature his student Miss Willemina Balk, his child drawing pupils, his stroke paralysed father, Naatje his gout-ridden sister, trouble with the maids, his search for nude models, his mother trying to matchmake him with a wife, events in the city and the daily minutae of an artist in Amsterdam.
Christiaan’s visual diary is unique. At times funny, at others deathly dark, these random frames form an elegant 1800s Dutch Golden Age non-fiction cartoon strip give us an incredibly vivid window into 2 years in the life of a privileged B-list Amsterdam artist.