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Forest with stream, 1888, charcoal and black chalk on paper, Collection Art Museum The Hague.

This charcoal drawing, Forest with Stream, was made immediately after elementary school, when Piet Mondrian was preparing for the elementary school graduation exam in hand drawing. The drawing was possibly made in preparation for this exam, which he took in December 1889 at the age of 17. His father had persuaded him to take the teaching exam in hand drawing; he preferred that his son pursue an education and advised him against devoting his life entirely to art. The life of an artist would be too uncertain. Although Mondrian probably disagreed, he took his father’s advice and prepared well for the exam. “He had set up the former ‘nursery’ in our house as a studio and studied with us,” says Carel Mondrian. Here Mondrian learned perspective drawing and the stylization of flowers and plants, and immersed himself in art history and anatomy.

In this charcoal drawing, Mondrian senior’s fluid drawing style is somewhat recognizable: round shapes with soft contours and a strong light-dark contrast. Mondrian senior also drew himself; at the school where he taught, he was known for his beautiful blackboard and chalk drawings. In addition, Mondrian senior produced at least ten commemorative and commemorative plaques between 1874 and 1913, which were printed and distributed in large numbers. He also held the teaching qualification for hand drawing. With his round forms, soft contours, and strong contrasts of light and dark, Wald mit Bach departs from the academic drawing traditions of the time. The leaves, rocks, soil, and water are barely characterized. The depiction tends toward suggestive imagery rather than exact images. According to critics looking back on Mondrian’s artistic career, Mondrian was at this point in 1888: “at the beginning of a long period in which he wanted to make the art of drawing his own, driven more by a great deal of energy and enthusiasm than by any distinct talent.”

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