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Friday March 31st 2017

In Search of W. K. de Bruin

Hawé Setiawan

Sunda Lands | Monday, 5 March 2012 | sundanesecorner.org

Part 2, Section 1 of previous post: Illustrated Sundanese Childhood: An Essay on ‘Roesdi djeung Misnem’

One of W. K. de Bruin's illustrations in 'Roesdi djeung Misnem'

A complete study of W.K. de Bruin’s illustrations in Roesdi djeung Misnem (RdM) has not been done so far. What we know about the life and works of the Dutch gentleman in the field of book illustration, which help depict man, nature, and culture of Dutch East Indies, is still insufficient. Lexicon of Foreign Artists who Visualized Indonesia (1600-1950) edited by Leo Haks and Guus Maris, for instance, merely states that W. K. de Bruin creates illustrations of Indonesia for children books such as Indische Sprookjes (Rijswijk, 1923) by T. J. A. Hilgers and Mijn Eerste Leesboek (Rijswijk, ca. 1915) by F. Viersen (Haks and Maris, 1995:50). The fact that W. K. de Bruin also creates images for books written in Sundanese, Javanese, and Malay is not mentioned in the short description.

Studies of the history of book illustration in Indonesia, which have been available so far, refer to the life and works of W. K. de Bruin merely in passing. In a book by Indonesian artist and lecturer Haryadi Suadi, Onong Nugraha: Sebuah Riak dalam Gelombang Sejarah Seni Ilustrasi di Indonesia ‘Onong Nugraha: A Ripple in the Wave of Illustration Art History in Indonesia’ (2000), W. K. de Bruin is indeed mentioned. The book itself, however, focuses its study on the life and works of prominent Indonesian illustrator Onong Muhammad Nugraha Sastraatmadja (1933-2001), which is known for, among others, his illustrations issued in a number of magazines, especially Sundanese magazines. Haryadi states that Onong’s illustrations are ‘affected by W. K. de Bruin.’ Although the book realizes the role of W. K. de Bruin’s works in the history of illustration in the country, it doesn’t give full details of the life and works of W. K. de Bruin.

Similarly, in the Netherlands and around there is not much study of the life and works of W. K. de Bruin. Among few sources of information, there is Brood op de Leesplank: Zes Illustratoren in Dienst van Het Onderwijs: C. Jetses, J. H. Isings, Tj. Bottema, W.K. de Bruin, B. Beuninck, J. Gabrielse ‘Bread on the Teaching Board: Six illustrators who Works in the Field of Education: C. Jetses, J. H. Isings, Tj. Bottema, W. K. de Bruin, B. Beuninck, J. Gabrielse’ (1977) by Jacqueline Burgers. This book also provides information about W. K. de Bruin. However, it emphasizes the history of illustration in the Netherlands, especially with regard to the history of primary education in the country.

There is also Als de Muren Konden Spreken: Schoolwandplaten en de geschiedenis van het Belgisch lager onderwijs ‘If the Walls Could Talk: Teaching Boards and the History of Primary Education in Belgium,’ a dissertation by Karl Catteeuw defended at the Faculteit Psychologische Wetenschappen, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, in 2005. In one of its chapters, Catteeuw highlights Nederlandse ontwerpers (Dutch graphic designers), which one of them is W. K. de Bruin, based on Burgers’ book mentioned above. However, like Burgers’ book, Catteeuw’s work observes book illustrations in relation with the history of education in Europe.

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2 Responses to “In Search of W. K. de Bruin”

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  2. Hawe Setiawan says:

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