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Johannes Cornelis (Jan) Roelandse was born in Leiden on April 6, 1888. He lived in the village of Sassenheim until 1924 and then moved back to Leiden. A year later he moved to a small village nearby Leiden, Leiderdorp, where he lived until his death on March 19, 1978.
On May 22, 1912 he got married to Albertine Adriana Owel and they had seven children, five of which died very young. Although their marriage wasn’t always a bed of roses they remained together for a lifetime.
Times were not always easy, living in a turbulent period of Dutch history marked by two World Wars (1914-1918 and 1940-1945) and the great depression at the end of the 1930’s. In those days he often earned more out of his dealings in antiques than out of his paintings. (Antiques were his second passion) and his wife also provided some income doing sewing and needlework.
In 1924 and 1925 he was awarded the “Royal Grant for Promising Young Artists”, although he was not a ‘young artist’ anymore. In 1949 the state started aiding artists, because of the poor economic times after World War II. In exchange for the aid the artist had to hand in a number of paintings covering the money he received. In this way the city of Leiderdorp gained an impressive collection of his paintings and drawings. Roelandse made use of this aid far beyond his 65th birthday, to be exact: until he was 78! Then he himself decided that it had been enough. Of course, being supported for such a long time was very exceptional and might be considered as an homage to his work.
He called himself an autodidact, although he got instructions from well-known Dutch artists like Floris Verster en Willem van der Nat every now and then. As a schoolboy he already painted on blackboards, slates and on the pavement, as he said in a newspaper interview in 1949.
His best period was between 1920-1930, when his work was published in some well-known magazines in the Netherlands.
Living in the area now known as The Green Heart of South Holland and being an impressionist, he preferred the countryside to painting in his studio. He wandered through The Green Heart by motorbike or on foot. And when he was too old to do so, his friends drove him to picturesque places. His subjects were the landscape of The Green Heart with its green pastures, cows, farms, horses, small ships in the ditches and its small villages with their churches, narrow streets and small harbours. He also painted portraits.
His drawings are like photos: as we nowadays take our camera whenever we see a beautiful spot, he took his sketch book and started drawing. A lot of his drawings are “fast scribbles”, which he used in his studio as examples for his oil paintings. The charm of these drawings is their casualness. But he also made a lot of “serious” drawings, in a beautiful, loose style. His lines are sometimes called “Rembrandtesque”.
He made a lot of oil paintings, which he usually painted outdoors, on the spot. And sometimes he added the finishing touch in his studio. His paintings are considered to belong to the “Leidse School”, which is a part of the “Haagse School”, an impressionistic movement known for its beautiful paintings in mostly grey tonality and misty blanket-technique. In Roelandse’s paintings the cloudy skies with their many grey tones and their famous Dutch light take an important place.
Roelandse kept painting until rheumatism in his hands prevented him from holding his brushes any longer. A few years later he died.
He painted not for the money, but because he had to, it was his way of life. Even when, in later years, his works were sold ‘even before the paint dried’ and he did not have to care anymore about how to pay the rent, he continued to draw and to paint.
He had lots of expositions in the region of Leiden and in 1949 his work was shown in the Lakenhal, the famous museum in Leiden that holds work of world-famous artists like Rembrandt and Lucas van Leyden.
Some of Roelandse’s works are in the permanent collection of this museum.
Biography written and submitted by Nico Roelandse, grandson of the artist J.C.Roelandse. He did a lot
of research on the work of his grandfather, for example in the
historical archives of the city of Leiden. He also contributed to the
realisation and contents (text) of the virtual museum “J.C. Roelandse” .