CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Rijksmuseum Acquires Icon of Dutch Nazi Party

Tomorrow the Rijksmuseum is to present its recent acquisition, The new man, painted about 1939 by Henri van de Velde.

Henri van de Velde, The new man, ca. 1939. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

On 30 May the Rijksmuseum will present a new acquisition: the painting Het nieuwe mensch (The new man). The figurative composition, full of symbolism, was painted about 1939 by Henri van de Velde (1896-1969). The painting played an important role during the German occupation of the Netherlands. The canvas glorifies the ideology of national socialism. During the war it hung in the office of the leader of the Dutch Nazi party, Anton Mussert (1894-1946). From 1942 on it formed part of his personality cult. After the liberation the painting was lost. It emerged once more in 2003, and the Rijksmuseum was able recently to acquire it. The painting measures 2.30 by 1.75 meters; it is not inconceivable that it will be given a permanent place in the 20th-century galleries of the New Rijksmuseum when it opens in 2010.