In My Grandfather's House

Rien Poortvliet, Author ABRAMS $39.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8109-1126-0
This lovely family album of paintings, drawings and stories re-creates the history of the well-known Dutch artist's ancestors in rural Holland. Poortvliet, as in Gnomes and Secrets of the Gnomes , uses calligraphy and collage to create a luminous world of the past, rendered here in delicate color, with few of the vivid reds characteristic of the gnome books. The fascinating plates include desolate landscapes, loving portraits of village characters, detailed sketches of farm animals, schematic drawings from toy catalogues and historic family documents (in Dutch, but translated into English) that include birth, wedding, death and mortgage certificates. Skeletons in the Poortvliet closet are present along with the more respectable burgers: church records from the 17th century charge one grandfather with drunkenness, and 18th century court papers testify that another forefather was found guilty of stealing a neighbor's ``housewife.'' (After a jail term, that particular Poortvliet packed his bags and moved to the island of Overflakkee, where the artist begins the book with his own 1944 visit to an uncle). The painter writes as well as he draws; his humorous yet down-to-earth style is charming. (Nov. )
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
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