Rien Poortvliet

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Rien Poortvliet
Eerste exemplaar boek Rien Poortvliet voor Prins Bernhard presentatie, Bestanddeelnr 929-7255.jpg
Rien Poortvliet in 1978
Born(1932-08-07)7 August 1932
Died15 September 1995(1995-09-15) (aged 63)
Known forPainting

Rien Poortvliet (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈrinˈpoːrtflit];[1] 7 August 1932 – 15 September 1995) was a Dutch artist and illustrator.[2]

Born in Schiedam, Poortvliet was best known for his drawings[3] of animals and for "Gnomes", a famous series of illustrated books with text by Wil Huygen.[4]

Poortvliet did not attend art school and his family discouraged him from becoming an artist: `My family thought that artists were, you know, a little bit dangerous, all those naked women, all that drinking all night."[5] Instead, Poortvliet's father wanted him pursue a profession that would produce a stable income, so Poortvliet began a career in advertising, initially drawing scenes of families for soap companies.[6] Poortvliet took more pleasure in the work he did on the side for several publishers. He illustrated various books, among them works by Jaap ter Haar, Leonard Roggeveen [nl] and Godfried Bomans. He was also a passionate hunter, which led him to drawing various nature subjects.[citation needed]

By the end of the 1960s, Poortvliet was able to make a living as an independent illustrator. To supplement his income, he made a book out of his drawings and watercolours based on his hunting experiences. Later on, he also made a similar work concerning the life of Jesus Christ.[citation needed]

Poortvliet saw himself as a storyteller in drawings. His drawings told the tale, and at most he added a short caption.[citation needed]

For years his works were published by Van Holkema en Warendorf in Bussum, where his "Leven en werken van de Kabouter" (co-authored by Wil Huygen, English title is "Gnomes") went through 59 printings. With the Gnomes series, Poortvliet acquired international fame. This series took on a life of its own, and was turned into an animated series in 1985.[7]

His books have been translated into English, French, German, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Italian and other languages.

The Rien Poortvliet Museum is on the island of Tiengemeten in The Netherlands.[8]

Fame and recognition[edit]

The general public was delighted with Poortvliet's drawings, but some critics thought Poortvliet hypocritical since he painted beautiful nature scenes while being a fervent hunter. Yet he was elated to be the center of attention.[citation needed] He did well on television with his goatee, his corduroy trousers and his chequered jackets[citation needed]. For a few years, Poortvliet was a panel member in "Zo Vader, Zo Zoon" (a Dutch game show).[citation needed]

Poortvliet found recognition when Prince Bernhard opened the Rien Poortvliet Museum in 1992. This museum stood in the old, historic Town Hall of Middelharnis, "Fortunately far away from the modern art gang in Amsterdam" as Poortvliet said in an interview.[citation needed]

Rien Poortvliet died in Soest in 1995 of bone cancer at the age of 63. He was survived by his wife Corrie Bouman and their two sons.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Poortvliet is referred to as a "beloved illustrator of gnomes" in the popular cartoon comedy Archer (season 4, episode 12 "Sea Tunt - Part I").


  • Jachttekeningen (1972) (English: Hunting Sketches) ISBN 90-269-4801-8
  • ...de Vossen hebben holen (1973) ISBN 90-269-4949-9
  • Hij was een van ons (1974) ISBN 90-269-4947-2
  • Te Hooi en te gras (1975) ISBN 90-269-6296-7
  • Leven en werken van de Kabouter (1976, with writer Wil Huygen) ISBN 90-269-4958-8
  • Het brieschend paard (1978) ISBN 90-269-4968-5
  • Van de hak op de tak (1980) (autobiographical) ISBN 90-269-4306-7
    • Dutch Treat: The Artist's Life, Written and Painted by Himself (1983) ISBN 0-517-41535-6
  • De oproep der kabouters (1981, with writer Wil Huygen) ISBN 90-269-4799-2
  • De ark van Noach, of ere wie ere toekomt (1985) ISBN 90-242-3206-6
    • Noah's Ark (1992) 08-109-1371-2
  • Langs het tuinpad van mijn vaderen (1987) (about his ancestors' supposed lives) ISBN 90-242-4800-0
  • Het boek van Klaas Vaak en het ABC van de slaap (1988, with writer Wil Huygen) ISBN 90-242-4499-4
  • De tresoor van Jacob Jansz. Poortvliet (1991) ISBN 90-242-7171-1
  • Braaf (1992) ISBN 90-242-6903-2
  • Aanloop (1993) (about man and nature throughout the centuries) ISBN 90-242-6937-7
    • Journey to the Ice Age: Mammoths and Other Animals of the Wild (1994) ISBN 0-8109-3648-8
  • Kabouter Spreekwoordenboek (posthumously in 1996, with writer Wil Huygen) (English: Book of Gnome Proverbs) ISBN 90-242-7882-1
  • Het Kabouterkookboek (posthumously in 2003, with writer Wil Huygen) (English: Gnome Cookbook) ISBN 90-242-8977-7
  • Tussen gaap & slaap (posthumously in 2003, revised edition of Het boek van Klaas Vaak en het ABC van de slaap) ISBN 90-435-0753-9


  1. ^ In isolation, Rien is pronounced [ˈrin].
  2. ^ "Discover watercolorist, author, illustrator Rien Poortvliet". rkd.nl. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
  3. ^ "Rien Poortvliet - Google Search". google.com. Archived from the original on 1 October 2002.
  4. ^ Huygen, Wil; Poortvliet, Rien (1977). Gnomes. Internet Archive. New York : H.N. Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-0965-6.
  5. ^ "A Painter's Love for Animals and History". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
  6. ^ "A Painter's Love for Animals and History". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
  7. ^ O'Connor, John J. (11 November 1980). "TV: Animated 'Gnomes'and Saturn Rendezvous". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Home". rienpoortvlietmuseum.nl. Retrieved 10 December 2022.

External links[edit]