ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Jan Theodor Toorop (1858-1928) Dutch impressionist, symbolist and art nouveau painter, illustrator and graphic designer

Updated on September 9, 2011

Jan Toorop is known as one of the most brilliant painters of Symbolism and Art Nouveau. Also, the different developments of his artistic designs make him a precursor of the avant-garde movements of the 20th century.

Jan Toorop, Impressionist, Symbolist, Art Nouveau painter
Jan Toorop, Impressionist, Symbolist, Art Nouveau painter

Johannes Théodor Toorop, know as Jan Toorop, was born on the island of Java in Indonesia, in 1858. He was born to a civil servant who traveled a lot between Dutch trading posts and an English mother.

At the age of 11, Jan returned to the Netherlands, where he attended secondary schools in Leiden and Winterswijk. In 1881, he continued his studies at the Academy of Amsterdam in Delft.

Resulting from his childhood experiences, Jan Toorop's style is highly individualistic merging Javanese motifs with Symbolist elements, creating slender figures that foreshadowed the ebbing and flowing style of Art Nouveau paintings.

In 1882, upon moving to Brussels, he signed up for the Académie des arts décoratifs. He joined Les Vingt, and 2 years later he exhibited in Paris in the Salon des Artistes Indépendants. Jan Toorop also visited England many times where he got acquainted with the works of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites.

Toorop married Annie Hall, in 1886. The next year, he suffered temporary blindness from an illness while Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon or La Grande Jatte was being shown in Brussels.

First Revelation: Symbolism

Three years after their marriage, Jan Toorop and Annie Hall moved to live in England alongside Guillaume Vogels while the painter was arranging an exhibition featuring Les Vingt artists in Amsterdam. In 1890, he returned to the Netherlands and began working on his first pointillist canvases inspired by Seurat.

Around this time, Jan Toorop experienced Symbolism when he read the poetry of Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck, which he thought of as a revelation. Henceforth, Toorop would frequently use Symbolist elements such as mythological subjects, yet the execution of his paintings remained firmly grounded in Art Nouveau.

Jan Toorop: O Grave, Where Is Thy Victory, 1892
Jan Toorop: O Grave, Where Is Thy Victory, 1892

Toorop's paintings evoking shady puppet theater, present the bosomy, curvilinear designs of luxurious Art Nouveau wallpaper, where similar elements of design and ornamentations are ceaselessly repeated.

In portrayals of various genuine mysteries, Toorop's figures are based on a feminine silhouette with long, slender arms interwoven with endless waves of long hair. They stand in a world where heaven and earth have no clear boundaries.

In this period of his life, Jan Toorop also created several posters and illustrated all sorts of works, employing, for the main, graceful arabesques, characteristic of the works of Aubrey Beardsley.

Jan Toorop: Fatalism, 1893
Jan Toorop: Fatalism, 1893
Jan Toorop: Self-portrait, 1927
Jan Toorop: Self-portrait, 1927

Second Revelation: Religion

A second revelation in Jan Toorop's life was discovering the path of religion in 1905. After converting from Protestantism to Catholicism, he began building all his work around his new-found faith. His art became even more mystical.

This shift in world-views inspired the artist to revisited neo-Impressionism and purify his designs. He simplified his rolling Art Nouveau lines, making them stiff and severe, while retaining their fineness of structure.

Jan Toorop died in La Haye in 1928. Until the 20th century, Toorop’s art bridged the gap between Art Nouveau and Symbolism in a delicate way.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)