Jean Theodoor Toorop, better known as Jan Toorop, was a Dutch-Indonesian painter, who worked in various styles, including Symbolism, Art Nouveau, and Pointilism. His early work was influenced by the Amsterdam Impressionism movement.
Jean Theodoor Toorop was born on 20 December 1858 in Purworejo, Java, Dutch East Indies. He was a descendant of a Dutch-Indonesian father and a British mother. In 1869, he left Indonesia for the Netherlands, where he studied in Delft and Amsterdam. In 1880, he became a student at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. From 1882 to 1886, he lived in Brussels, where he joined Les XX (Les Vingts), a group of artists centred around James Ensor. Toorop worked in various styles during these years, such as Realism, Impressionism Neo-Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.
After his marriage to an Annie Hall, a British woman, in 1886, Toorop alternated his time between The Hague, England and Brussels, and after 1890 also the Dutch seaside town of Katwijk aan Zee. During this period he developed his own unique Symbolist style, with dynamic, unpredictable lines based on Javanese motifs, highly stylised willowy figures, and curvilinear designs.
In the late 19th century (in 1897) Toorop lived for 20 years in a small house on the market in the seaside town Domburg, Walcheren, Zeeland. He worked with a group of fellow artists, including Marinus Zwart and Piet Mondrian. There was no joint endeavor or a common style between them. Each followed his individual personality, but they sought their inspiration in "the Zeeland Light", in the dunes, forests, beaches and the characteristic Zeeland population. Toorop was the center of this group.
Thereafter he turned to Art Nouveau styles, in which a similar play of lines is used for decorative purposes, without any apparent symbolic meaning. In 1905, he converted to Catholicism and began producing religious works. He also created book illustrations, posters, and stained glass designs.
Throughout his life Toorop also produced portraits, in sketch format and as paintings, which in style range from highly realistic to impressionistic.
Toorop died on 3 March 1928 in The Hague, Netherlands. His daughter Charley Toorop (1891–1955) was also a painter, as was his grandson Edgar Fernhout.