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A Remarkable Metal Artist

Last weekend I visited the Drents Museum in Assen to see their retrospective exhibition about Johanna van Eijbergen (1865-1950), a female metal artist who excelled at creating Art Nouveau designs with beautiful insects. The exhibition is on show for one more week (until 18 september 2022), so hurry if you wish to see it in person!

Dish with mayflies by Johanna van Eijbergen

Dish with mayflies, designed by Johanna van Eijbergen

According to Annemiek Rens – curator of the Drents Museum – Johanna was the only woman in the Netherlands to venture into the field of metal art around 1900. Her designs were produced between 1904 and 1910 by Hengelo manufacturer G. Dikkers & Co. All the vases, bowls and other objects are characterised by wonderful decorations of stylised flowers and animals, particularly insects, butterflies and fish.

Brass dish with fish (Cottus perifretum) and eels design

Brass Dish with Bullhead and Eels, designed by Johanna van Eijbergen

Woman among Men

When thinking of Dutch metal art around 1900, one immediately thinks of artists such as Jan Eisenloeffel (1876-1957), Frans Zwollo sr. (1872-1945), Carel Begeer (1883-1956) and Johannes Cornelis Stoffels (1878-1952). However, one important name is missing! Johanna van Eijbergen (1865-1950) was a woman who entered a man’s world and in a short time built up an impressive oeuvre as a metal artist. She distinguished herself by the way in which she seamlessly combined stylised animal and plant motifs with geometrical forms. 

Brass ink set with stag beetle

Brass Ink Set with Stag Beetle, designed by Johanna van Eijbergen

Particularly talented Artist

Although Van Eijbergen was only active as a metal artist for ten years, she managed to fully exploit her talent. Winged insects in particular recur on the vases and bowls in brass, copper and tombak. She also made bread baskets, jugs, lamps, door plates and doorknobs. And most of the designs were in keeping with the prevailing Art Nouveau style of the time.

Brass Pendulum Clock by Johanna van Eijbergen

Brass Pendulum Clock, designed by Johanna van Eijbergen

It is high time to put this exceptional artist in the spotlight and tell about her contribution to Dutch art around 1900. The Drents Museum gives a surprising overview of Van Eijbergen’s work.

I have tried to photograph the objects at the museum, but because all objects were placed in glass boxes, my pictures turned out rather poor. So I have taken the liberty of sharing the official pictures from the museum with you. Let their bright pinks remind us that these objects were created by a female artist! 

Merlijne Marell (1986)

It is also nice to mention that the museum invited a contemporary artist to create new art, inspired by Johanna van Eijbergen, in order to show that art from around 1900 can still be a source of inspiration for designers today. The museum asked Merlijne Marell to stay at their ‘Artist in Residence studio’ and create new work. And she did a wonderful job using the Bullhead and the Mayflies from Johanna’s designs! 

Merlijne Marell (1986), Rivierdonderpad, 2022

Merlijne Marell, Bullhead, 2022

Johanna-van-Eijbergen_catalogueThe exhibition is accompanied by a rather comprehensive catalogue about the life and work of Johanna van Eijbergen. The catalogue includes many beautiful new photos of the artworks, as well as contemporary photos from the 1900s. 

The book can be obtained at the museumshop. But if you cannot make it to the museum, you can also buy the book online at W-books (the publisher) or by clicking at the picture on the left. In the back of the book is a summary in English (1 page only).

Johanna van Eijbergen, A Remarkable Metal Artist
16 April to 18 Sept 2022 – Drents Museum, Brink 1, Assen


Continue Reading:
Archibald Knox (1864-1933)
Drents Museum: Johanna van Eijbergen
Gedreven koperwerk in Hengelo
George Henri Lantman (1875-1933)
Johanna van Eijbergen & Merlijne Marell
Koperen pracht, made in Hengelo
Wikipage about G. Dikkers & Co.
Wikipage about Johanna van Eijbergen