Richard N.Roland Holst; Renaissance Man and Poster Artist

September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

As dealers in original posters, we respond to beautiful images.  We limit our collections to those things which were printed for advertising, and we know biographical information about the biggest artists from each time period- Cheret, Mucha, Steinlen from the Belle Epoque; Cappiello, Cassandre, Colin from the Deco period; Klein, Georget, Galli from the post war period.  Once in a while, we come across a poster which is so stunning, so different from typical poster design, that it warrants a second look.  We love this poster “Tentoostelling” by Richard N. Roland Holst, and it sent us on a quest for more information about the artist.

Social change and economic reform? A deteriation of the decorative arts and an appreciation for the artists? Yes, these indeed were the problems that one Dutch artist, Richard N. Roland Holst, attempted to tackle during his lifetime. Along with other individuals in the Arts and Crafts Movement and as one of the Dutch Symbolists, Holst spurred a revival that changed the course of lithography and fine arts.

Richard N. Roland Holst lived from 1868 to 1938.  He was a Dutch writer and artist working with a variety of mediums, including stained glass, lithography, painting, and illustration. He was best known as one of three prime leaders of the Dutch Symbolist Movement in the early to mid-1900s. Holst trained as an artist in Amsterdam at the Rijksakademie; his first love as an artist was Impressionist painting, and so Vincent Van Gogh and Jan Toroop deeply influenced him in his early years. Holst’s early work comprised of Symbolist drawings and lithographs in this vein. In 1892, after Van Gogh’s death, Holst produced a beautiful commemorative work for Van Gogh using a sunflower motif.*
His political leanings also influenced his work as an artist. Holst and his wife Henriette became part of the Democratic Socialist Party, in Dutch, “Sociaal Democratische Arbeiders Partij.” In the late 1890s, he created lithographs of political cartoons about Socialism, but also kept his work varied by continuing to do landscapes. At the turn of the century, Holst created murals that made a large impact and led to the greatest developments of his career; such “allegorical murals” included themes of Industry and the like. The development of his signature style, namely the geometric forms and very strict form, helped him demonstrate abstract ideas.

Original Poster by Dutch artist Richard N. Roland Holst

Original Poster by Holst advertising an exhibit of prints and printing

This poster by Richard N. Roland Holst called Tentoonstelling was for a September 1917 exhibition in Holland. The poster clearly exhibits Holst’s style at a relatively late part of his career. The symbolism in the black and gold
lithograph shows detail with flowers lining the central image of a tree. He skillfully uses angles to manipulate the viewer’s eye to focus on the central image and then move to the title “40Tentoonstelling.”

What can we learn from Holst’s life about the Dutch Arts and Crafts movement? The Arts and Crafts Movement sought to revive the decorative arts in Europe beginning in the 1890’s. As a historical figure, Holst provides an example of a person whose work is remembered in his country and throughout the art world because his influential style developed into something very specific and recognizable. His style continues to impress us almost one hundred years later.

This poster is part of our current collection and can be seen on our website in the art exhibition section.  It has been framed archivally by the Studio Shop in Burlingame, with a beautiful closed corner frame. We will feature this rare piece at the Pasadena Heritage Show which will be held October 20-21, 2012



This post was written by Karlie Drutz, SF State Museum Studies Program  and Edited by Elizabeth Norris, Owner Vintage European Posters

Vintage European Posters
Established 1997

2201 Fourth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
510 843 2201


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