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Writing Girl, c. 1890 – 1897, black chalk on paper, Collection Art Museum The Hague.

As beautiful as this drawing is, model drawing was not Piet’s forte. He applied several times as a candidate for the “Prix de Rome”, a prestigious prize for artists in which a study trip to Rome was to be won. However, Piet failed the entrance exam each time because his representation of the human body was not good enough for the jury. About the male nude he painted for his competition entry in 1901, the jury judged vehemently: “The study of the nude model does not meet the reasonable requirements, since both the form and the color have no relation to nature. The somewhat stocky, yet pithy forms and proportions of the model are represented here by shapeless plumpness and bluntness of the lines. The legs are far too thick and show little anatomical understanding of the subject matter, while the drab gray color and largely mindless modeling do not make a good impression either.”

By this time, Piet already had extensive training in the field of fine art. However, opinions differ as to exactly when this writing girl was drawn. There are two possibilities. Art critic Cor Blok claims that the drawing was a study in preparation for the examination for the Secondary Education Certificate in Hand Drawing and Perspective. With this exam, Piet acquired his teaching qualification in 1892. However, other experts, such as Hans Janssen, believe that the drawing was made later. In fact, drawing models was not a requirement for the certificate exam. According to Hans Janssen, it is more plausible that the girl writing was drawn during evening classes at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, which Piet attended during the academic years 1894-95 and 1896-97. This theory is supported by the possible identity of the girl. In Winterswijk, where Piet took his matriculation exams, his older sister Christien would have been the most likely model for the drawing. However, her facial features, as seen in the photograph below of Piet Mondrian with his brothers and Christien in the center, do not match those of the girl writing. If Piet did not manage to find another model to prepare for his exam, there is a good chance that this was a model from the Rijksakademie.


Piet Mondriaan with his brothers and sister [v.l.n.r.: Carel (1880-1956), Pieter Cornelius (Piet), Johanna Christina (1870-1939), Willem Frederik (1874-1945), Louis (1877-1943)]. 1890. Foto: Location unknown

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Villa Mondriaan Zonnebrink 4 7101 NC Winterswijk +31 (0) 543 51 54 00
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