By: Theo Molkenboer (1871-1920)
Created: 1894-1895, Collection: Drents Museum, Assen, Netherlands Rights: CC-BY-SA
Put on your best concentration face and look downwards - you may be a knitter, you could be reading a book or you could just gaze at your palms. This might work well in a laundry room of towels or a kitchen with an open cupboard of white plates or crockery.
An ode to his mother: that is what the painter Theo Molkenboer had in mind when he painted his mother in front of her linen closet. At that time Molkenboer had only reached the age of 23, but he was already blessed with a big talent.
Molkenboer’s education, at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam and at the architectural office of P.J.H. Cuypers, was funded by his father, the sculptor W.B.G. Molkenboer. Molkenboer was a multilateral artist – a painter, sculptor, glazier, graphic designer and designer of religious applied art. But his biggest talent lay in making portrait paintings.
In this work of art, Molkenboer paints his mother while she’s performing an everyday activity. In that period people didn’t have computer games and television, so people had to make up other things to do and pass the time. Molkenboer’s mum is crocheting while sitting on a red carpet in front of a closet almost completely filled with linen.
At that moment she was 47 years old. Molkenboer’s biggest talent was making portraits, and that is very apparent in this painting. You can almost see his mother frowning in concentration and focused on her crochet.
Molkenboer died in Switzerland while he was on a TB-treatment.