Willem Hendrik van der Nat was born in Leiden on 4 September 1864 and died there on 11 July 1929. Willem van der Nat was a watercolourist, sculptor, etcher, illustrator, lithographer, painter and draughtsman.
Background Willem van der Nat
At the age of 13 Willem van der Nat received his first drawing lessons from Timotheus Wilhelmus Ouwerkerk (1845-1910). A few years later Willem was apprenticed to the Leiden lithographer Christiaan Bos (1835-1918). In the evenings, from 1881 to 1884, he attended the Hague Academy. Meanwhile Willem van der Nat worked as a lithographer and illustrator. First for printing office ‘Lankhout’ in The Hague and then for the publisher D. Bolle in Rotterdam. He also drew under the pseudonym ‘Soranus’ for the ‘Amsterdamsche Courant’ and ‘De Groene Amsterdammer’. Willem also made cartoons for the satirical magazine ‘Uilenspiegel’. From 1886 Willem van der Nat studied at the Drawing and Painting Academy ‘Ars Aemulae Naturae’ in Leiden. Here Willem became friends with Floris Verster (1861-1927) and came into contact with Hendricus Petrus Bremmer (1871-1956).
His own oeuvre
In 1891 Willem van der Nat married Catharina Boudewina Bakker (1867-1953). Around this time Willem produced his first paintings. Initially his style of painting was strongly influenced by the Hague School, but around 1900 he went his own way. Influenced by Van Gogh and Millet, he started painting with a rougher brushstroke and a pronounced use of colour. His paintings also impressed Henk Bremmer, who was a well-known art critic. Willem’s reputation grew steadily and by 1910 he had become a respected and successful artist, exhibiting widely. Willem van der Nat had more or less specialised in paintings with sheep and goats. For this he stayed for longer periods of time in the villages Borger and Oosterhesselen in the province of Drenthe.
Later on, probably around 1918, Willem started to paint still lifes regularly. In 1924 he made a study trip through Spain, which resulted in a series of Spanish scenes. Willem van der Nat also painted townscapes, portraits and landscapes of the villages Chaam and Garderen.
The Leiden School
The Leiden School was a group of artists active in the first half of the 20th century. They painted in and around the Dutch city of Leiden. The group is also known as the Leiden Impressionists, a movement related to the Hague School. Willem van der Nat, along with other painters, is considered part of the core of the Leiden School. These include Willem Johannes Pasman, Arend Jan van Driesten, Chris van der Windt and Alex Rosemeier. Other painters who belong to this school are: Lucas Verkoren, Floris Verster, J.C. Roelandse and Laurent van der Windt.
Willem van der Nat was co-founder of the Leiden association ‘De Kunst om De Kunst’ in 1896. He was also a member of Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam. Willem taught painters Chris le Roy, Bram Segaar, Cor van Sillevoldt and Leendert van der Vlist.
The Municipal Museum ‘De Lakenhal’ in Leiden has several works by Willem van der Nat in their collection.