Alexander Ver Huell, illustrator > 1846-1879 public success for the tormented artist

 Alexander started having his drawings published around 1846, first by J.H. Gebhard, in later years by A.C. Kruseman, G.J. Thieme and Gouda Quint. That same year, Alexander made his debut as an independent artist with Zoo zijn er! He had a good deal of success with this series of humoristic drawings featuring students in all sorts of everyday situations. In 1849, Alexander took his doctoral degree, but there was no prospect of a diplomatic career for him anymore due to the strained relations he had maintained with his professors and the political situation of the day.

After taking his PhD, Alexander left Leiden for Amsterdam, where he was to associate mainly with artists. By the time, his reputation as a gifted artist was already well-established. With the first edition of Zijn er zoo? he grew into one of the best known draftsmen of his time. This was around 1851. In the years that followed, Alexander’s drawings became graver and bleaker. He came preoccupied by the representation of Evil, for example in Is het waar of niet? (1854), in which the subjects are devils, murderers and adultery.

Over the years, Alexander worked not only on his own publications, but also as an illustrator for the Nederlandsche Spectator, the Nederlandsch Magazijn and others. Around 1860, Alexander joined the Oosterbeekse Kring in Arnhem, to which landscape painters like J.W. Bilders and F.H. Hendriks belonged. Alexander supported them by buying their work and even designed a memorial stone for Hendriks’ grave. Further protégés of Alexander’s were his former teacher Van Ameron and the painter Cornet. On his many travels to Paris and other cities, Alexander regularly met other artists, among whom Arie Scheffer and Gustave Doré, who were an inspiration for him and with whom he sometimes correspondended for years.

After his father’s death in 1860, Alexander began suffering from severe paranoia. He became an ever more despondent and vindictive eccentric, who fell out with his publishers and lithographers and who alienated himself from his friends. Alexander Ver Huell died in 1897, a lonely, misunderstood man. His extensive private library now belongs to the Arnhem Library collection. Other parts of his estate have gone to the Voorne-Putten and Rozenburg Regional Archives, the Arnhem Library, the Gelderland Archives, the Leiden Regional Library and other institutions.

Read more: Ver Huell in his time

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