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Artz Constant David Ludovic

Paris 1870 – 1951 Soest

Dutch Painter

Family of Ducks along a brook

Signature: signed lower left ‘Constant Artz’
Medium: watercolour on paper mounted on board
Dimensions: image size 35 x 50,5 cm, frame size 56 x 71 cm 

Constant David Ludovic Artz was born in Paris in 1870 and died in 1951 in Soest. Constant Artz painted the Dutch landscape with willows and windmills, but became best known for his waterscapes featuring ducks in all their activities. He portrayed this motif in countless ways, demonstrating himself to be a keen observer of nature. Artz was also an exceptionally skilled watercolorist.

As the son of the Hague School painter D.A.C. Artz, he was born in Paris, where his father studied under Gustave Courbet. When Constant was 4 years old, the family moved back to the Netherlands in 1874. Father Artz recognized his son’s artistic talent at a young age and enrolled him at the Hague Academy in 1882. In 1899, Constant was given a place in the studio of Tony Offermans, a typical Hague painter whose work was an extension of that of Jozef Israëls. The Dutch variant of Impressionism was instilled in Constant from an early age.

At home, he became acquainted with his father’s painter friends, Jacob and Matthijs Maris, and also Willem Mesdag, who provided him with guidance. However, it was Willem Maris who showed the most interest in Artz’s work, giving him many instructions and becoming his great exemplar. Under the influence of Simon Maris, Artz specialized in painting duck families in all their activities, a theme he would never abandon for the rest of his life. The landscapes he painted, often featuring windmills and seascapes, are lesser known. He painted them en plein air, fascinated by nature, much like his father. However, he would truly become – and remain – famous for his duck paintings, which he executed with a smooth, impressionistic touch. In contrast to Simon Maris’s work, they are smaller in size and the brushstroke is less robust. Yet, the similarity between the two painters lies in the interplay of light and shadow. Artz managed to create endless combinations within his theme, composing scenes of ducks in the grass, alongside the edge of the ditch, with trees, and ducks in close-up or in the distance, with sunlight on the mother duck or her chicks.

Despite the declining attention for the Hague School and its followers after 1930, Constant Artz remained a favorite of the public – the painter of friendly and sunny scenes with a mother duck and her young in the water or on the side of a ditch. During the wartime period, he was even able to support his family by trading paintings for food. In the last years of his life, his eyesight deteriorated sharply, resulting in a broad, impressionistic style of painting. Artz passed away at the age of 80 in Soestdijk, where he had lived since 1985, with a five-year period in Katwijk aan Zee.

Notes: Like his father, Constant Artz was captivated by nature, specialising in Dutch landscapes featuring ducks by water, a subject that gained widespread popularity in the 19th century. With an impressionistic touch, Artz depicted ducks and their chicks with remarkable detail, skillfully incorporating sun and light effects. His paintings, typically small in size, are cherished for their warm and inviting appearance, showcasing his mastery of color.

from a private collection

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