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Cornelia van der Hart (1851 - 1940)

Girl sewing clothes for her doll

16 x 21,5 cm

Oil on panel

Signed right at the middle


Provenance: bought at a gallery in Den Haag in 1995.


In very good condition


Rarely is a work by this female artist offered for sale.


This panel depicts an unusual subject: a girl sitting on a bench outside against a wall, engrossed in sewing clothes for the doll lying next to her. The artist somewhat abstracts the composition, as evident in the girl being constructed from flat planes, almost resembling a doll herself.


Cornelia van der Hart was born on December 5, 1851, in Fort de Kock (Bukittinggi), Sumatra. Her father, a colonel and governor, passed away when she was just five years old, and eight years later, she also lost her mother. At the age of thirteen, Cornelia came to the Netherlands.

Choosing to study at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague was a daring step for a young woman during that time. Nevertheless, Cornelia persisted and studied under Johan Philip Koelman. Between 1877 and 1878, she enrolled in his M.O. course, a professional training preparing for the state examination to obtain the qualification for Higher Education. Her determination and talent bore fruit, as she was appointed as a drawing teacher in the course for female students in 1879, becoming the first female instructor at the Academy.


Cornelia van der Hart was known for her versatility as an artist. She painted, drew, and etched figures, urban and rural landscapes, and cityscapes. Her artworks were well-received and exhibited in shows of contemporary masters, including the 1889 World Exposition in Paris, where she earned a medal. She also collaborated with renowned art dealers such as Van Wisselingh & Co and Goupil en Cie, which brought her art international recognition and placed it in foreign collections.


Cornelia was a pioneer for women in the art world and an inspiration for her fellow artists. As a member of various artist associations, including the Pulchri Studio painting society, she shattered the glass ceiling and overcame the challenges that women faced during that era to be taken seriously as artists.


Her involvement in organizing the National Exhibition of Women's Labor in 1898 in The Hague was a clear signal of her dedication to improving the position of women in the labor market and the art world. The exhibition was organized exclusively by women and aimed to break the taboo on paid female labor. As a member of the Planning Committee, Cornelia contributed to the logistics of the exhibition and was responsible for the artistic content of the space dedicated to the colonial section of East Indies.


Cornelia was also involved in The Hague initiatives that emerged from the success of the exhibition, including the stores Boeatan and De Wekker, businesses run by women. She believed in the importance of recognizing and appreciating the artworks of women at a time when male artists dominated many disciplines such as ceramics, furniture, and woodcarving.

Cornelia van der Hart - Girl sewing clothes for her doll

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