06.09.1850 (The Hague) - 22.11.1936 (The Hague)
Lodewijk (Louis) Franciscus Hendrik Apol was born in The Hague on September 6, 1850. At fifteen years old he became the apprentice of the painter Hoppenbrouwers. Charles Rochussen, the teacher of George Hendrik Breitner, also frequented the workshop of Hoppenbrouwers and the young Apol likely absorbed much by observing these two masters at work and listening to their discussions. After Hoppenbrouwers passed away in 1866, the cattle painter Pieter Stortenbeker took over as young Apol’s teacher.
Apol showed remarkable talent and already at age 25 one of his pieces, a sunset in a snow-covered forest called An Evening in January, was exhibited in the Rijksmuseum. Apol had a clear preference for winter scenes, which became his specialty and of which he made countless paintings.
What is immediately striking in most of Apol’s work is the absence of figures. The skaters, sleds, and "koek en zopie" stands, typical of the Dutch winter landscape, are mostly absent. The emphasis is on nature and conveying the atmospheric feel of winter: the illusion of coldness and space, a brillant or threatening sky, and the hard, frozen soil and snow. Occasionally, Apol differed from his beloved winter scenes and painted a summery moorland or river landscape.
One of the most remarkable events in Apol’s life occurred in the summer of 1880, when he joined an expedition to Spitsbergen on the polar schooner Willem Barentsz. The ship stranded on a reef. After throwing overboard all ballast, they managed to dislodge the vessel, but the situation remained perilous. The expedition was aborted and they sailed back to Hammerfest (Norway). Sixteen years after this expedition, the director of the Panorama in Amsterdam commissioned Apol to paint his impressions of the Russian archepilago Nova Zembla on a few large canvases. The exhibition of these pieces was a hit, drawing thousands of visitors.
Louis Apol moved to Roosendaal, where he married and where he lived from 1886 until 1892. However, he continued to visit his hometown The Hague, where he passed away on November 22, 1936.
A. Brunt, 'Een praatje over Louis Apol', Op de Hoogte 6 (1909), p. 727-734;
Anoniem, 'Louis Apol', Eigen Haard 62 (1936), p. 769 en 775-778;
V. Hefting, Schilders in Oosterbeek, Zutphen/Arnhem 1981;
D. Desjardijn, Grafiek in Nederland, de 19e eeuw, Amsterdam 1985, p. 153, 157;
J. Ubbens, 'Louis Apol (1850-1936) en zijn foto's', Tableau 11 (1988), p. 49-50;
M.E. Spliethoff, Koningin Wilhelmina. Schilderijen en tekeningen, Zwolle 2006, p. 126, 138, 140;
T. Andratschke, J.J. Heij, R. van der Linden-Beins, Max Liebermann en zijn Nederlandse kunstenaarsvrienden, Zwolle 2006, p. 98, 122, 140;
J. Kapelle, S. de Bodt e.a., Magie van de Veluwezoom, Arnhem, 2006, p. 184, 192, 193;
M. Jonkman, E. Geudeker, Mythen van het atelier. Werkplaats en schilderpraktijk van de negentiende-eeuwse Nederlandse kunstenaar, Zwolle 2010, p. 149.
De Haagse School; Hollandse Meesters van de 19de eeuw, Parijs (Grand Palais), Londen (Royal Academy), Den Haag (Haags Gemeentemuseum) 1983
Work by Louis Apol is represented in the collections of various museums, among others the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the Hague Gemeentemuseum, The Netherlands.
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