Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rien Poortvliet

In the US Dutch artist Rien Poortvliet is probably best known for his lavishly illustrated books on Gnomes.
But his real passion was to create paintings of everyday life on a farm, and sceneries depicting a hunter’s experiences. He loved the Dutch countryside, which he portrayed endless times in beautiful oil and watercolors.
Poortvliet was self-taught, he never attended any art classes. His goal was through observation to improve as an artist every day. As a young man he found jobs in the advertising world, but by the late 1960s he was able to make a living as an independent illustrator.
In 1992 his oversized book on the story of Noah’s Ark was published in the States. Here are a few studies of animals and landscapes from that edition.

© Abrams/Poortvliet

Rien Poortvliet died in Holland in 1995 at the age of only 63.
On the whole I would have to say that his work is occasionally a little too photorealistic for my taste, but I do admire his incredible technique and his love for painting and storytelling.

Here is a link to an informative interview, conducted in 1994 in his studio:

References for this post: Wikipedia


  1. Nice to see this Dutch artist featured here Andreas! These drawings and paintings are great. Funnily enough Poortvliet is not really valued as a 'real' artist by the cultural elite in the Netherlands.
    The same goes for another great Dutch illustrator and artist, Anton Pieck (whose work is also worth a look, especially his design work for the Disney-level Efteling theme park).

  2. Poortvliet is one of my favourite landscape painters which has to do with the fact that the region of Germany where I grew up lies close to the Dutch border and looks very much like the rural landscapes he painted. I highly recommend his book "Langs het tuinpad van mijn vaderen" in which he traces through texts, sketches and paintings the everday life of his forebears in rural Holland during the 19th century. The range of scribbles, sketches and elaborate pieces in ink and oil is stunning in my opinion, and rich with his warm, earthy style.

  3. There are marvelous drawings!! A great discover for me. Thanks

  4. Those Illustrations are so rich in details!!! I loved it!!! Thank you for post Andreas!!! =)

  5. I disagree about his work being photo realistic,( What is presented here anyway). I think his work is just too appealing to be that. But I understand that it doesn't have the flavor or character of Ken Andersons elephants or Milt Kahls Bambi sketches, etc.. But the execution of his work has a certain amount of charm that I never see in photorealism.

  6. Rien Poortvliet's work is so great! This is a great post. Thanks for sharing some of his work with us. I agree with the comment above about his work having a warmth & earthiness to it. When looking at his art, I often feel like I'm sitting in the grass, seeing it first hand. As far as the "photorealism" is concerned, I think his work does have a lifelike and realistic quality. However, it seems to be far from "photoreal" to me. The washes, sketchy line, and marks of the artist are unmistakably out front with no attempt to disguise the fact that it was made by human hands. I think it's a testament to his skill level and ability to capture "believablity" that some would first consider his art "photorealistic." All that being said, I understand how some may not always enjoy his approach. I like most of his work a lot, but have found his gnome projects immeasurably inspiring to me. They even motivated me to do my own series of paintings of gnomes! I dig that video too! Thanks again for posting this stuff. This blog is great!