Meeting place for artists

Willem Witsen was a painter, etcher, art critic and photographer, whose paintings include tranquil scenes of the city of Amsterdam. The house was mainly famous for Witsen’s hospitality towards members of the Tachtigers group. This literary group had a great deal of artistic and even political influence in those days. One of the rooms in the house is the Verlainekamer (Verlaine Room), named after the French poet Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), who stayed there in 1892 in order to give lectures in the Netherlands.

 

Exterior Oosterpark 81-83

Unusual interior

More than 500 items were valued in 1906, including furniture, porcelain and Willem Witsen’s own works. All these items are still there in the house. Witsen’s books are in the Witsenkamer (Witsen Room). The walls of this room are covered with expensive wallpaper consisting of separate sheets with lithographic printing. The Art Nouveau design with its stylised yellow and purple umbellifers, ivy and butterflies is by the artist Theo Nieuwenhuis (1866-1951).

 

Oosterpark 82, interior living room in the Willem Witsenhuis

Witsen’s hospitality still lives on

Willem Witsen’s second wife, Augusta Maria Witsen-Schorr (1974-1943), left the house and its contents to the State on her death. Since then, the house itself has always been made available to authors as temporary accommodation, in conformity with Augusta’s wishes and the Witsen tradition. Authors who have stayed at the house include Marga Minco and Thomas Rosenboom. The collection is administered by the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (department for the preservation of cultural heritage).

 Nederland, Amsterdam 1950, Marga Minco and Bert Voeten on the roof of their house (the Witsenhuis) located at the Oosterpark

Photographer: Sem Presser, owner rights photo: Maria Austria Instituut