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Dick Bruna

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Dick Bruna
Bruna in his studio in 2007
Hendrik Magdalenus Bruna

(1927-08-23)23 August 1927
Utrecht, Netherlands
Died16 February 2017(2017-02-16) (aged 89)
Utrecht, Netherlands
Known forArtist, graphic designer, illustrator/author of children's books
Notable workMiffy
SpouseIrene de Jongh (m: 1953) [1]
AwardsGolden Paintbrush

Dick Bruna (born Hendrik Magdalenus Bruna, 23 August 1927 – 16 February 2017)[2] was a Dutch author, artist, illustrator and graphic designer.

Bruna was best known for his children's books which he authored and illustrated, numbering over 200. His most notable creation was Miffy (Nijntje in the original Dutch), a small rabbit drawn with heavy graphic lines, simple shapes and primary colours. Bruna also created stories for characters such as Lottie, Farmer John, and Hettie Hedgehog.

Aside from his prolific catalog of children's books, Bruna also illustrated and designed book covers, posters and promotional materials for his father's publishing company A.W. Bruna & Zoon. His most popular designs graced the covers of the Zwarte Beertjes [nl] series of books. Well known among his designs are those for Simenon's Maigret books, typified by graphic silhouettes of a pipe on various backgrounds.


Dick Bruna's father, A. W. Bruna, directed the family-owned publishing company Bruna, with his brother Henk Bruna. His father's intentions were for Bruna to follow in his footsteps,[3] but Bruna had different plans and wanted to be an artist. He traveled to London and lived for a while in Paris, where he fell under the influence of Fernand Léger, Pablo Picasso, and especially Henri Matisse.[4] Back in the Netherlands he attended the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam but soon quit; he said afterwards that he had no talent as a painter and could not draw perspective.[5]

In 1955, while on family holiday, he saw a rabbit hopping around and later made attempts to draw it, thereby creating "Nijntje" ("Miffy" in English),[6] the word a Dutch child might use as the diminutive for "konijntje", "little rabbit".[7]

Bruna illustrated over 2,000 covers and over 100 posters for the family business, A.W. Bruna & Zoon. But when the Amsterdam company Art Unlimited decided to publish Poster & Postcards following Roby Bellemans traveling international exhibitions with Dutch and other children book illustrators, Dick Bruna approached Roby about this collaboration and decided to let Art Unlimited publish his “Nijntje” cards. His most recognized illustrations were for the Zwarte Beertjes (English: little black bears) series of books, including The Saint, James Bond, Simenon, and Shakespeare. He has said that the Japanese character Hello Kitty was copied from Miffy.[8]

In 2014, Bruna announced his retirement, after which the rights to the Miffy character were not to be sold.[9] In March 2016 he was awarded the Max Velthuijs-prijs.[10][11]

Bruna died of natural causes in his sleep in Utrecht on 16 February 2017 at the age of 89.[12][13]

Bibliography (as children's author)[edit]

Jules Maigret sculpture offered to Delfzijl, Netherlands by A.W. Bruna Uitgevers.

Bruna published 120 children's book titles, the last being Miffy is Naughty in 2017.[14]


At a young age Bruna started drawing, but was also influenced by artists of other art forms. He drew covers for his school newspaper in Walt Disney style.[citation needed] Later he admired Rembrandt and Van Gogh.[citation needed]

The biggest influence was perhaps Matisse. Dick Bruna's first works were based on collages by the French painter. Bruna has also been noted to have been influenced by the Dutch graphic design movement, De Stijl, in particular the work of architect Gerrit Rietveld.[15]

Partial list of biographies and monographs[edit]

  • Petit Glam Issue no. 3- Paradise in Pictograms Issue. Petit Glam. 1998. ISBN 4-7713-0329-0.
  • Jansen, Bert (1998). Dick Bruna boekomslagen. Centraal Museum. ISBN 90-73285-71-2.
  • Widdershoven, Thomas; Thomas Widdershoven; Gert Staal (1998). boris en de paraplu. Centraal Museum. ISBN 90-73285-74-7.
  • Yanagimoto, Koichi, ed. (2004). Zwarte Beertjes- Book Cover Designs by Dick Bruna. Glyph.
  • Linders, Joke; Joke Linders; Koosje Sierman; Ivo de Wijs; Truusje Vrooland-Löb (2006). Dick Bruna (English ed.). Waanders Publisher, Zwolle/Mercis Publishing, Amsterdam. ISBN 90-400-8342-8.
  • Reitsma, Ella; Ella Reisma (1989). Kees Nieuwenhuijzen (ed.). Het paradijs in Pictogram (Paradise in Pictograms). Mercis Publishing, Amsterdam.
  • Kohnstamm, Dolph (1991). The eye demands an eye- Reflections about the children's books by Dick Bruna (English ed.). Mercis Publishing, Amsterdam. ISBN 90-73991-03-X.
  • ディック・ブルーナ (2005). ディック・ブルーナ ぼくのこと、ミッフィーのこと (単行本). Kodansha publishers, Ltd. 講談社. ISBN 4-06-212826-8.
  • All About Dick Bruna ディック・ブルーナのすべて (単行本). Kodansha publishers, Ltd. 講談社. 1999–2002. ISBN 4-06-208962-9.


  1. ^ "Dick Bruna: Biografie". www.nijntje.nl. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  2. ^ "'Miffy' Children's Book Creator Dick Bruna Passes Away". Anime News Network. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  3. ^ "Dick Bruna – dutch graphic roots". Retrieved 2022-09-07.
  4. ^ Secher, Benjamin. "'I saw Matisse - and came up with Miffy'". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  5. ^ Witman, Bob (17 February 2017). "Dick Bruna (1927–2017) creëerde met Nijntje een universum waarin geen cynisme of kwaad bestaat". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  6. ^ Cain, Sian (17 February 2017). "Miffy creator Dick Bruna has died aged 89". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  7. ^ Nijntje liedje - lief klein konijntje (refrein) (English: "Miffy song - sweet little bunny (chorus)") on YouTube
  8. ^ Harrod, Horatia (31 July 2008). "Dick Bruna, creator of the Miffy books, talks about his life and work". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 September 2019. The only other time in our conversation when Bruna's brow clouds over is when we discuss Hello Kitty, the Japanese cartoon beloved of cute-obsessed schoolgirls and lovers of kitsch throughout the world. 'That,' he says darkly, 'is a copy [of Miffy], I think. I don't like that at all. I always think, "No, don't do that. Try to make something that you think of yourself".'
  9. ^ Maxime Zech (30 July 2014). "Nijntje creator Dick Bruna retires". NLTimes. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Dick Bruna krijgt de Max Velthuijs-prijs voor zijn hele oeuvre" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Dick Bruna ontvangt Max Velthuijs-prijs 2016" (in Dutch). NU.nl. 22 September 2016. Archived from the original on 14 April 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  12. ^ Corder, Mike (17 February 2017). "Dick Bruna, 'spiritual father' of rabbit Miffy, dies at 89". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 18 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Tekenaar Dick Bruna (89) overleden" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  14. ^ Linders, Joke; Joke Linders; Koosje Sierman; Ivo de Wijs; Truusje Vrooland-Löb (2006). Dick Bruna (English ed.). Waanders Publisher, Zwolle/Mercis Publishing, Amsterdam. ISBN 90-400-8342-8.
  15. ^ Allardice, Lisa (15 February 2006). "Children's and teenager's books (Children's books genre), Books, Culture, Ireland (News), Europe (News)". London: The Guardian UK. pp. 12–27. Retrieved 26 October 2007.

External links[edit]