Hubertine Heijermans

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Hubertine Heijermans
'Autoportrait' by Hubertine Heijermans 1959.jpg
'Self-portrait' by Hubertine Heijermans, 1959
Born8 January 1936

Hubertine Heijermans is a figurative painter, a multi-plate etching artist, Swiss printmaker and engraver, living in Canton de Vaud, Switzerland since 1958.

Early life[edit]

Hubertine Heijermans was born in Amsterdam.[1] on 8 January 1936. She was educated at the Barlaeus Gymnasium, took painting lessons from 1954-1957 with Jos Rovers,[2] and then studied for 2 years at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam with professor Gé Röling (1904–1981). In 1958 she met Nils, born in the Netherlands, but a volunteer and an officer in the British Army during the second world war. They got married and settled in Lausanne, where in 1960 their son Anian was born. From 1968 until 1972 Heijermans studied etching technics at the American highschool Villa Schifanoia, of the European Section of Rosary College of Arts and Sciences, Illinois USA, now Dominican University, and in Fiesole, Italy. The school was run by Dominican Sisters. In order for her to not remain all day in the convent, her etching teacher Swietlan Kraczyna found a studio in a palazzo overlooking Florence and the river Arno. In 1972 Heijermans won the Premio Brunelleschi (a Florentine prize for painters and sculptors) with a series of seven oilpaintings of a young Haitian woman, honored by Piero Bargellini the Mayor of Florence. Then she returned to Villars in Switzerland with her heavy etching press Bendini-Bologna, who is not electrically driven, but has to be turned by hand. The couple divorced in 1973. Nils died in 2001 in the South of France. Hubertine Heijermans still lives and works in Switzerland as an artist-painter and graveur Suisse since 1958. She now, in 2015 has her own artist Studio, Atelier 'Hubertine', situated in Canton de Vaud since 1981. She has been painting in Spain at the Costa Blanca since 1996 until 2006, because she would drive her car from Switzerland through France and Spain during 2 days, as hibernating in the Province of Alicante had become possible financially and she had the freedom to leave for 3 months in the winter. She still paints at home, but graphic artwork like etching has become too heavy. Yet, paint and a canvas are never far away, as painting is possible up to an advanced age. And as long as one is healthy a painter also collects a lot of experience and uses his capabilities to the maximum. Her paint got more substantial depth and she is obviously now mentioned more frequently, therefore people can find more about her work and person, since she also published a book about her life and art work, which one can read in the BCUL in Lausanne, the Bibiliothèque Cantonale Universitaire de Lausanne, since 2009. Her painting technics are definitely impressionistic, but her material is perfected with underlying coats of mixed white and lead white, which adds and enriches the oil paint and allows the material to become more alive and expressive. She remembers also the valuable but rare lessons of the famous Florentine painter, Pietro Annigoni who showed her to make paint herself with tempera technics. At the age of 80 she now prepares oil paintings about musicians playing the flute or she paints a series of nudes - models one can today find even on TV or Youtube. This artist-painter indeed lives with her time. She is also present on Flickr since April 2016.

Ollon Fountain 'Le Cotterd' Etching 1981


Heijermans painted a series of portraits of actresses or ‘Haute-Couture’ models of Dior, Jean-Paul Gaultier[3] and Yves Saint Laurent. Her brushes captured Isabelle Adjani[4] playing in 'La Reine Margot' and Emmanuelle Béart,[5] in the French movie 'Une Femme Française', Carla Bruni, top model in the 90s of Yves Saint-Laurent and other models working for Dior, where John Galliano was head-designer from 1996-2011, when a scandal forced him to quit. Hubertine also found inspiration with the Swiss Circus Knie[6] and in 2003, when the family Knie celebrated their 200-year existence, Heijermans offered her painting, Géraldine equestrian acrobate as a gift, which is now hanging in the main office of the Circus' Headquarters in Rapperswil.

Painters from Italy and Spain[edit]

In 1970 Pietro Annigoni (Florence) Italy showed her ancient techniques in oil painting like the preparation of egg tempera, and explained the use of flake white, even when this is a toxic material, but because, he said, it would strengthen underlying first coats of her paint.[7][citation needed] His recipes including the white toxic lead powder improved the adherence of her paint and reduced the process of darkening and getting yellow with time. In the 90s Jesus Peñarreal equally showed the value of thin layers of glaze, which flake white allowed to paint. Peñarreal then sent Heijermans to study the Spanish impressionist painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida in the Museu de Belles Arts de València where students can draw.[8]


Exhibits in Florence (Italy) took place in 1969, 1970 and 1972 and in Switzerland from 1973–2008, after she settled in the Commune of Ollon. She exhibited in Aigle, Lausanne, Montreux, Fribourg, Sion, Porrentruy and in Aubonne[9] near Lausanne. In 1994 Heijermans showed hundreds of oil paintings, watercolors and etchings in Singapore.[10] Other exhibits were held in The Netherlands, in the Scheveningen (1964), Delft (1970), Amsterdam (1982) and Leiden (1983). The Musée Jenisch in Vevey[11] now keeps 50 etchings, lithos and héliogravures, since recent work was added in 2007. The museum for photography Musée de l'Élysée in Lausanne conserves 45 photo-etchings since Charles-Henri Favrod in 1993 made a choice of her héliogravures as dust grain photogravures are called in French. In fact she mastered photogravure and multi-plate color etching when working in Studio Luis Camnitzer in Valdottavo, Italy, with David Finkbeiner from Pratt's Institute in New York. This technic is strenuous and difficult, including many detailed manipulations and only printing studios like hers or the one of Sarto in St.Prex create outstanding prints. The Dutch Museum van Bommel van Dam keeps 23 etchings and lithographies printed by herself on her own manually driven press since 1978, accepted after a vote of the Municipality of the town of Venlo. Her graphic work can also be found at the Dominican University, Illinois. In July 2012 the Musée historique du Chablais in the Château de la Porte du Scex added 2 oilpaintings to their collection of etchings, lithos, héliogravures and woodcuts they already conserved, to the 80 artistproofs and handprinted originals executed by Heijermans. From 26 April until 28 October the Musée historique du Chablais in Vouvry organized 2 exhibits showing the history of the region, where the artist lives and works. For that reason her etchings, watercolors and oilpaintings, depicting sites of the region called 'Les Ormonts' or the plain where the Rhône river joins the Lake of Geneva, were on display and accompanied a show of the history of health resorts and hotels.[12] In 2014 a coveted award was given her by the Municipality of her Commune, the 'Mérite Boyard 2013' which included a bronze sculpture by André Raboud and an amount of money to cover the expenses for colors in the best quality of oilpaint and make it possible to acquire good Flemish linen, in a variety of texture adapted to the particular need of an artist-painter.

Emmanuelle Béart 1995
Oil painting Spain 2003
Bonjour photo-etching 1981
Ollon Rooftops photo-gravure1981
Villars Mountain hut photo-gravure 1984
La Sallaz Farm of the Abbey photo-gravure executed by the artist


  • 1960 Bartholomeus en zijn dierenvrienden by Hubertine Heijermans, 's-Gravenhage ; Rotterdam: Nijgh & Van Ditmar (Dutch)
  • 2009 ‘Parcours d’une artiste-peintre’ text by P.A.Genillard, ISBN 2-9700240-4-7 (French)
  • 2010 ‘Monnaz Survol pittoresque d’un village dans la période 1961-1971, by Hubertine Heijermans, ISBN 978-2-8399-0683-8 (French)
  • 2010 ‘Hubertine Heijermans Parcours d’une artiste peintre II’, by Hubertine Heijermans, ISBN 978-2-8399-0715-6 (French and English)


External links[edit]