Floris Verster was a leading artist in the Netherlands around the fin de siècle. He receives most admiration for his lavish floral still lifes. With his fluent painting style and exuberant use of colour, he makes an important contribution to the development of symbolism in the Netherlands.

Eye for detail

Verster was commissioned to paint this portrait by Mr and Mrs Kröller-Müller. The work assumes a special place in his oeuvre, as he rarely makes portraits. He depicts Helene Kröller-Müller in a black dress with a serious, even rather sombre expression. The pearl necklace, collar and face of Helene reveal his eye for detail.

Emotional state

Later, Helene writes that she was often lost in thought while sitting for the portrait and that she sometimes felt as though she were in a ‘sleepless night’: ‘It is storming and churning in me and yet I sit still at my desk or even stiller with Verster’. The painter has accurately captured her emotional state in this portrait.