The Impressions of the Unknown R. Mulders

A painter known only as R. Mulders left a number of masterful impressionist paintings, but little else. One painting, Fishing at Low Tide, is currently being offered on eBay.

The oil painting is signed by R. Mulders in the lower left corner. His name and his work are all we have to go on. Recently watching Sister Wendy Beckett’s interview with Bill Moyers, it was intriguing to hear her say paintings, where little is known about the artist, are the most captivating. To paraphrase, she said, “We can only judge the painting, not the artist.”

The Impressions of R. Mulders
The Impressions of R. Mulders

The Impressions of R. Mulders Although there are plenty of auction records for R. Mulders, one of the most recent was at Christie’s in 2007. No detailed biography is available about the painter. He is probably Dutch or Belgian based on some online information and was active at the last quarter of the 19th century.

From his paintings, it’s obvious R. Mulders had a profound love of the seashore and the daily life of a fisherman, whom he painted with both dexterity and sympathy. The painting on eBay is not too much different from the painting auctioned at Christie’s in 2007 although it is much bigger. In this painting, Mulders chose to downplay the hardship of the mundane routine of fishermen and romanticized the reward of life working harmoniously with nature. At low tide, a few females are waiting on the pier. One bends her body toward the shore, there a fisherman is unfolding the mast. Under the hazy light and above the simmering sea more boats are heading home.

Mulders’ “Fishing at Low Tide” shows he was both influenced by impressionism and Dutch Hague School. The chalk-looking brushstrokes of rendering people in succinct efficiency and the pointillistic depiction of waves under the peculiar light (a combination of pinkish warm yellow and the cool purple-blue – complimentary in tertiary colors) demonstrated the impressionism style. On the other hand, the fact that the overall colors are on a relatively somber scale and are harmonized under the poetic airy mood, suggests his familiarity with the Hague School.

Disclosure: The owners of this site have a financial interest in the painting.

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