Portrait of Carolus Marinus Johannes Willem van Rijnen Piet Mondrian Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Here Mondrian completes a portrait of Carolus Marinus Johannes Willem van Rijnen which fits alongside another of his wife in a two-sided pendant design. The project is dated at around 1900-1905, close to when both figures would sadly pass away.

The two portraits were therefore requested as a means to remembering the couple for years to come. The works would remain in the family after their passing and then eventually were auctioned off in the 1980s to a Dutch art collector. He has since allowed them to be displayed on loan in a public art gallery so that more people can access and enjoy them. Many of the lesser known paintings produced by Mondrian from around 1910 and before have started to re-appear in recent years, allowing us to discover new items from his career that we were not aware of previously. The main genres in which these are from include portraits such as this but also a number of early landscape paintings that Mondrian completed prior to his relocation to Paris, a move which pushed him further towards an abstract direction within his work.

Within the painting itself we discover Carolus looking directly at us with a serious expression. He is smartly dressed, as with most of Mondrian's formal portraits. The edges of the work are softened, making the content slowly fade away as we head towards the rounded edges of the painting. Most of the content is focused very centrally which was necessary because of the pendant format. The model has a smart white beard which is well groomed. His hair is minimal but tidy and slicked back as was the style of the time. This ageing man still appears relatively healthy, as Mondrian attempts to give as good an impression of the individual as possible, just as he would with his wife on the oppsing side of the painting. Mondrian would surely have completed the two paintings at pretty much the same time, in order to hand over the project promptly.

Carolus Marinus Johannes Willem van Rijnen was born in Delft in 1832 and passed away in 1903, just around the time of this painting. He married Louise Charlotte Mathilde van den Bosch in 1863 and so they would have been married for around four decades, which was certainly something worthy of celebration. Mondrian completed the commission with great respect and care, delivering a beautiful double portrait which fitted as well together as the couple themselves had done. The two paintings have since been included within the artist's catalogue raisonne, further confirming their connection to Mondrian himself.