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 Cornelius Christiaan (Christian) Zwaan  (1882 - 1964)



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Lived/Active: Illinois/Michigan / Netherlands      Known for: portrait, genre, interior, landscape

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Ad Code: 4
Cornelius Christian Zwaan
from Auction House Records.
Dutch Maiden Knitting
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is based on information provided by McGuire Fine Art of Northville, Michigan.

Born in Amsterdam, Holland, Cornelis Zwaan became a portrait, landscape and genre painter who rarely exhibited his work while he was alive because he felt out of touch with the dominant modernism of his time.

He attended the Royal Academy of Art in Amsterdam with a scholarship provided by Queen Wilhelmina. His paintings began to find a ready market in the United States by 1909, and this success caused him and his wife to move to America in 1910. They lived in various locales and received portrait commissions from prominent persons including industrialists, bankers, political figures and social celebrities in New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit where he was living at the time of his death. In 1923, he became a United States citizen.

Painting a portrait of Queen Juliana was the fulfillment of a life-long ambition.
In 1952, after arrangements had been completed through the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Hague, sittings began on the first portrait of the Queen to be painted from live sittings rather than photographs. She was so pleased with the results that she knighted him and decorated him with the Order of Orange Nassau. After a private showing and a public exhibition at the Detroit Historical Museum of Art, the portrait was sent to the Embassy of the Netherlands, Washington, D.C. It was shown in New York City and a number of other cities before being returned to the Holland Michigan Museum whose board of directors had originally commissioned Zwaan to paint the portrait.

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