Biography (English)

Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht 1858-1933
Artist and Gentleman

Early childhood
Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht was born on September 18th 1858 in Amsterdam into a well–to- do patrician family. He was the second child and first son of John Cornelis Hoynck van Papendrecht and Francina Hudig. They married relativily young on June 26th 1856, John Cormelis was 23 years of age then, Francina 21. Hoynck senior was a merchant and a member of the Board of Directors of the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce. In the next nine years Jan`s mother gave birth to another two daughters and two sons. The boys and girls, six in total, grew up in a harmonious family, comfortably housed in the inner city of Amsterdam. After primary school Jan attended for two years secondary school there.

In 1874 the Hoynck`s moved to Rotterdam where the father became an agent of the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij, an internationally operating trading company, founded in 1824 by the Dutch merchant-king Willem I.

68Coming from a family of merchants, Jan Hoynck seemed destined for a career in business. For three years he continued his secondary education in Rotterdam, in order to be educated enough for following his father`s footsteps. As a young child however, Jan showed a certain talent for drawing. He was in good company because his father was quite an amateur painter and drawer in his days.

Charles Rochussen (1814-1894), a well-known painter, illustrator and friend of the family, urged Jan`s parents to have him educated in the world of art. Being the son of a wealthy business man and art collector himself, Charles was destined to pursuit a career in business. He worked a few years in office before he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to art. Apparently Charles preferred a short cut for the young Hoynck. His parents agreed to this so Jan went to Antwerp in October 1878 to follow a wintercourse at the renewed Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He stayed there for two years, after which Jan went to Munich to study at the Königliche Akademie der Bildende Kunsten (Royal Academy of Art).

Whilst Jan was studying abroad, in 1879 his mother gave birth to a seventh child, a son.

Further education, marriage and settling down

The next four years Jan lived and worked in Munich. According to the advise of Rochussen he roamed the country site and painted as much subjects as possible, as his many surviving sketchbooks show.

He was also attached to the Riemerschmidschule, a vocational business school for girls, most likely as an art teacher. In 1884 he finished his education in Munich as a professional watercolourist and painter and decided to return to Rotterdam.

As there is no documentation left of his early years, we don`t know if he met his future wife after he returned from Munich or that he had met the vicar`s daughter during one of his visits to Rotterdam in his Munich years. Be it as it may, the almost 30 years old Jan married the 23 year old Johanna Philippa van Gorkom on June 7th 1888 in Amsterdam. They were fond of children, but unfortunately, the couple remained childless.

Jan Hoynck and his wife lived in Amsterdam for three years, whereafter they moved to Nieuwer Amstel, in those days a dwelling place for the more affluent people of Amsterdam. In 1894 the Hoyncks moved house to Rheden near Arnhem, an area of outstanding beauty. In 1902 the Hoyncks moved for the last time to another city, this time to the Hague, the residency of the Queen.

Jan Hoynck produced an impressive number of paintings, watercolours and drawings, most of which deal with military subjects. His work is fascinating because he drew not only inspiration from ceremonial occasions such as reviews and the presentation of colours, but also from the daily lives of ordinary soldiers as well. In this Hoynck made an original contribution to the way military life was depicted earlier. Military life in those days was colourful, but especially in his Napoleontic work he showed the viewer the other side of pomp and circumstance. He choose not to depict mutilated bodies or soldiers killed otherwise, but more as if they were fallen asleep. But dead they were. Besides the fact that Hoynck in his whole career always portraited the human being in his uniform instead of simply depicting a soldier, he was also from a military technical point of view, very reliable. Every detail, be it a ribbon or a rifle, was right. From early childhood on, Jan Hoynck systematically collected information on uniforms such as colours, piping and dress regulations. As he grew older, he was an avid collector of militaria such as sabres and uniforms. He corresponded with other military painters abroad like the German professor Richard Knötel, the well-known uniform specialist and with the historical section of the Dutch army. Hoynck undertook researches on the Dutch, British and the Imperial German armies and everything Napoleontic. All in all, this means that the work of Hoynck can be treated as a reliable source. In this he differed from contempory Dutch painters such as George H. Breitner (1857-1923) and Isaac L. Israels (1865-1934),who painted military subjects too. They became famous for their impressionistic way of painting, something Hoynck did quite a bit later.299

Besides his mastership of painting, Jan developed as a professional illustrator as well. He was capable to illustrate every subject. Ruins, castles, landscapes, civilians or soldiers, Hoynck could do it all.

616Already during his stay in Munich, he became a regular contributor to The Graphic, the British illustrated weekly magazine, in which his work first appeared on July 14th 1883. Magazine illustrators played the role of photographers in those days.


In 1895 Hoynck was asked to illustrate in the same magazine the serialized My lady nobody, a historical novel by Maarten Maartens. Interestingly, the book itself was published in the UK by Bentley & Son without these 24 illustrations, the American version, published in the same year 1895 by Harper & Brothers, was.In the Netherlands he became the illustrator of quite a few books, mostly on historical subjects.

Making illustrations to be printed requires a special technique. It is a delicate mater. The artist has to take in account that whilst being printed the drawing can absorb too much ink.

165In the Netherlands Hoynck already was a well known young many-sided artist, when he was asked to illustrate articles in Eigen Haard, the Dutch equivalent of the Graphic. In 1890 he joined the editorial staff of Elsevier`s GeïIllustreerd Maandblad (Elsevier`s Illustrated Monthly).

87In 1893 Hoynck`s fame rose when he was invited to illustrate a series of 10 beautifully designed books, printed in a private limited edition at the occasion of the centenary of the Korps Rijdende Artillerie (KRA, ie Dutch Royal Horse Artillery) They were nicknamed the Yellow Riders because of the colour of their splendid uniforms. The artists Hendrik M. Krabbé (1868-1931) and Willem C. Staring (1847-1916) who both specialised in military subjects, were also invited to illustrate several of the hundreds op pages of these books. The majority however of the illustrations were made by Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht. Besides this series of books, the KRA had a commerative coin designed after a sketch of Hoynck. On top of that, Hoynck himself made several paintings in oil with the Yellow Riders as subject.

Fame abroad
Hoynck certainly was not just a painter of military scenes alone. He was very capable of painting landscapes, scenes like tea drinking ladies at the waterfront, interiors and (old) buildings.
605Some of his work does have a resemblance with the French painter Claude Monet (1840-1926). His heart however went for the military life. Hoynck became rather popular in military circles. Officers were apprecitiave, Hoynck used to say, if you knew the history of their regiments. Be it Dutch, British or German ones. Once he was asked a question about a British uniform while attending a dinner with the Bank Detachment of the Guards. When he gave the right answer, one of the officers said “What mr. Hoynck doesn`t know about British uniforms, is not worth knowing…”601

97As the work of Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht was much appreciated by the military, more often than not he was invited to attend army manoeuvres.

Not only in his home country, but also in the United Kingdom and in Germany. For instance, he attended British army manoeuvres in 1896, 1897 (in Sussex) and -as far as we know- for the last time on Salisbury Plain in 1899.
850The results of these visits were e.g. an oil painting of the Scots Greys, drawings in The Daily Graphic and a number of watercolours, one of which is an attractive picture of a drummer of the Norhumberland Fusiliers in khaki. Hoynck left us several spreadsheet supplements in colour of The Graphic.

There are no records of invitations by the French army.

Having visited London in 1889 and 1890, as we can deduce from his watercolours of the Life Guards and Grenadier Guards, Hoynck visited the capital again in 1902 in order to witness the coronation of Edward VII. British colonial troops arrived at the very heart of the Empire from almost every corner of the world creating a magnificent spectacle Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht had no intention of missing.
He painted several watercolours at Alexandra Palace of soldiers from the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Puthan. But there was more to see. For instance, a soldier of the West African Frontier Force, a Sikh and a Malay States Guide, all of them posed for the Dutch painter.

It is interesting to know that during his visits to the UK, Hoynck used a camera as well as his pallet and brushes. Just like Breitner used the camera for recording ordinary street life, Hoynck used this tool as they became cheaper and practical, to take pictures of marching bands and soldiers in the field.


In 1899 and again in 1907 The Graphic asked Hoynck to illustrate the Peace Conferences in The Hague. On June 22nd 1907 it published a pencil drawing of one of the meetings in the Knight`s Hall in the Dutch equivalent of ‘Westminster’. Ironically, an artist who was famous for his work on military subjects, now used his skills to produce drawings of peace negotiators.

Having focussed on the relation between the UK and Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht, it is now the place to notice that this Dutch painter had his work exhibited internationally, some of them at quite unexspected places. Besides exhibitions in the Netherlands, work of Hoynck was presented at exhibitions not only in places like Munich, Breslau and Paris, but in St. Petersburg (Russia) and St. Louis (USA) as well. From his very first exhibition in 1887 until his last abroad in 1913, Hoynck`s work was much appreciated. More often than not awards were bestowed on him. Not surprisingly, after the Armistice in 1918 people had to recover from the wounds the Great War had inflicted on them. Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht was not the man to reflect the pains and horrors of the First World War. Other art movements like expressionism and surrealism became more en vogue. In the Netherlands however, the military and people next to this, still admired the paintings, watercolours and sketches of Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht.

The Great War
Although the Netherlands were neutral during the Great War, the war itself had a great impact on the life of the Dutch people. To underline the policy of neutrality the Netherlands called thousands of young men to arms. This army, consisting of some 237.000 men, stayed mobilized till the end of the First World War.

For Hoynck, the war itself offered lots of opportunities to depict battles and fighting men on the one hand, and internees on the other.

14At the end of 1914 he completed six oil paintings of battles fought earlier that year. One of them shows a fierce battle between Belgian Guides and Prussian Hussars. Three others depict engagements between German and French infantry. One painting in this series shows two members of the Royal Artillery saving a field gun while the original crew lies dead in Flanders mud. As mentioned earlier, especially this painting shows the other side of military life, the cruelty of modern warfare rather than the pomp and circumstance of military parades. For that time that is, as he was not an eye witness of these moments of fighting, Hoynck had to rely on his sources in order to adequately represent these engagements. During the rest of these war years, Hoynck did not make any other work related to the war as it horribly developed in the trenches.

In the Netherlands however, there was much to see for Hoynck with his very own eyes. From the early days of the war, refugees and internees to be entered the country. The very first year of the war, almost a million of Belgians fled into the Netherlands (with an own population of 6.5 million then). Later on thousands of officers and soldiers of almost all other belligerents were interned in special camps, distributed all over the Netherlands. Hoynck had his field days then! Because of the warm relations Hoynck maintained with the Netherlands War Office, it supplied the artist with a pass so that Hoynck could work in all the camps. He filled several sketch books with drawings, some of which were studies for watercolours or paintings. Proud Germans, snooty Englismen, tired Belgians and coquettish Italians, all posed for him willingly.295

On May 5th 1917, The Graphic published an extraordinary drawing by Hoynck, entitled The warhorse meets his mechanical rival. The caption reads as follows:
540‘The material for this sketch was supplied by one of the officers of the Dutch Mission on the Somme front, who witnessed the scene on the road to Montauban. One of the things that impressed him most was the indifference of the horses to all the noises and horrors of the war. Bullets, bombs and high explosives did not seem to frighten them much, but in one case at least, the sight of a tank proved too much for the nerves of the warhorse.’

What we see is a horse staggering in front of a First World War tank, while two British officers in trench coats survey the scene. It is the only sketch by Hoynck we know of which depicts a tank.

541After the war came to an end, Rotterdam was the harbour where barges full of British troops coming from Germany were embarked to repatriate.Hoynck was there, to see and to work.

On May 10th 1919, The Graphic published two drawings on this subject. It was presumably at this time that Hoynck painted the watercolours which now are in the collection of the Black Watch Museum at Balhouse Castle, Perth, Scotland. One of them is a portrait of a Captain P.B. Hepburn MC of this famous regiment.


Work of Hoynck in the public eye
Unfortunately, work of Hoynck as he used to sign his British work, is in the UK for the general public hard to be seen. Just like the Black Watchmuseum, the National Army Museum in London has original work of Hoynck, most of the time located in her depots.

We know at least one watercolour picturing a Drummer of the Grenadier Guards hanging on the wall of one of the administrative offices at Regimental Headquarters, Wellington Barracks, in London. It is not however, as one understands, on show for the public.

During WW II the offices of The Illustrated London News were bombed. Many of Hoynck`s originals went into flames.

The Graphic Gallery sold drawings Hoynck made for The (Daily) Graphic. Sadly, the records of this gallery were destroyed during the Blitz in 1940. So, one can easily assume that original Hoynck`s are still to be found in the United Kingdom.

As for Germany, the author has no record of any work made by Hoynck in German collections. Information on this will be highly appreciated!

In the Netherlands, quite understandingly, work of Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht is much more in the public domain. The biggest collection is located at the National Military Museum at Soesterberg. Several paintings and watercolours are permanently on display. Quite a lot can be viewed on the website.There are more museums and archives in the Netherlands who have original work of Hoynck in their respective collections. Not only museums collect work of this particular painter, quite a few of private collectors do as well. To detect unknown work and to promote the work of Hoynck, the author has been very much engaged, together with the late instigator Luuk Duker, to have all the work of Hoynck posted on this website. It is on this website, one can view many watercolours made of Dutch, British, German and Napoleontic military.

Final years
In 1928 Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands made Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, an Officer in the Orde of Oranje-Nassau, on recommandation of the Secretary of Education, Arts and Science. The Queen was a fervent admirer of Hoynck`s work. She commisioned several paintings by him. Earlier, in 1906, she had awarded Hoynck the Medal in silver for Arts and Science, attached to the House-order of Orange.

It was the Secretary of War himself, who on his very anniversary pinned on this high award. Not only did Hoynck enjoy the royal admiration, he also was thrilled to watch the serenade by the Koninklijke Militaire Kapel, the well known band of the Dutch Grenadier Guards. As far as we know, it was the first time then that this band performed a serenade for a civilian.

Despite his age, Hoynck still liked to travel. He favoured mountainous countries like Austria and Switzerland, but in his eyes Italy was also a country not to be missed. That is where he and his wife spent their holidays in 1928.

When working at home Hoycnk stuck to his rythm. He climbed the stairs to his atelier and stayed there for several hours at a stretch. During these hours he was not to be disturbed. Oilpaintings, watercolours and sketches found their way to admirors of his work. Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht was one of those artists who could live very comfortably.

In the course of 1933 Hoynck experienced some problems with his health. At the end of that year, December 11th, Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht peacefully passed away, 75 years old. As a token of respect by the Queen, the Prince Consort Henry himself payed a visit at the widow of Hoynck at their home.

Hoynck preferred to be buried in his beloved dunes instead of the family grave in the Hague. Therefore the funeral took place at the Algemene Begraafplaats (cemetery) at Bloemendaal near Haarlem, a beautifully positioned cemetery in the rolling dunes. Unfortunately, the grave was cleared some years ago. So we thought.
New research however, learned that only the tombstone has been removed. The grave itself is untouched. This was a thorn in the side of both the municipality of Bloemendaal and the biographer Jacques Bartels. Thanks to their joint effort, a new gravestone will be unveiled with the necessary military ceremonies by a representative of the Dutch Minister of Defense on Thursday, December 14, exactly 90 years ago that Hoynck was buried.

It was attended by many representatives from the cultural and the military world. Queen Wilhelmina sent a royal wreath. One year later, Hoynck`s studio, with all the uniforms and sabres, lancercaps and Pickelhaubes, paintings, sketches and his easels, was reconstructed in the Netherlands Army Museum at Castle Doorwerth, near Arnhem. For ten years, people could enjoy Hoynck`s atelier. During the battle of Arnhem, most of the castle was destroyed however. Quite a lot of artefacts belonging to the army museum went into flames, including Hoynck`s atelier. Fortunately, it was just a part of Hoynck`s enormous oeuvre that was destroyed. Lots of his work had been shattered all over the Netherlands, in museums and in private collections.


Final remarks
The author of this paper published in 1986 at the occasion of the first retrospective exhibition after WWII at the museum Flehite in Amersfoort, the biography Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht 1858-1933 (Amsterdam, 1986) which is out of print now.

Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht was so productive that we, after all those years of research, still don`t know exactly, the total volume of his work.

This is the main reason why a continueus research into the life and times of this Dutch painter, who as no one else could portray the military life, is still necessary. The website plays an important role in this. At the same time, the author is hoping that one day a new and revised edition of Hoynck`s biography will be published.

Jacques A.C. Bartels 2016©

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