Fatal Art
Sara de Swart

March 19, 2016 – June 5, 2016 This exhibition has ended
‘Fatal Art. Sara de Swart’ is a refined fin-de-siècle exhibition, which introduces the relatively unknown Sara de Swart, thanks to many loans of art historical importance from private collections and museums. The exhibition is centred on the Dutch sculptress, art collector and muse Sara de Swart (1861-1951).

A picture of her world is outlined on the basis of paintings and sculptures by Isaac Israëls, Odilon Redon, Jan Veth, George Breitner and others from her collection together with De Swart’s own work, photographs, sculptures and musical compositions. The exhibition also includes work by her life partner, the artist Emilie van Kerckhoff, and her father, the painter Corstiaan de Swart. The exhibition and the richly illustrated book ‘Fatal Art’ by guest curator Jaap Versteegh tell the story of a woman who was prepared to give literally everything for art.

Muse of the Tachtigers

Sara Swart grew up as the only child of a well-to-do family. At the end of the nineteenth century she was one of the few women to belong to the Movement of 1880 (Tachtigers). She befriended a large number of young artists and supported many of them financially by buying their work. This earned her the name ‘Muse of the Tachtigers’. She was on friendly terms with painters like George Hendrik Breitner and Isaac Israëls, the writers Lodewijk van Deyssel and Herman Gorter, and the composer Gustav Mahler. She was interested in every artistic discipline, from painting and sculpture to literature, poetry and music. The large number of portraits of Tachtigers exhibited in ‘Fatal Art’ offer a unique insight into this group of artists, who played a role of great importance in the development of modern art in the Netherlands. On the basis of extensive research by Jaap Versteegh, the active and stimulating role of Sara de Swart in the artistic life of her day is revealed for the first time in this exhibition.

Eye for talent

De Swart’s sharp eye for talent and her personal contacts with leading artists in the Netherlands and abroad formed the basis of her impressive art collection. Thanks to her friendship with artists like Odilon Redon and Auguste Rodin, she was able to acquire their work and was the first to introduce them in the Netherlands. The exhibition includes a large collection of prints by Odilon Redon. Sara de Swart was a genuine art lover throughout her life and spent her entire fortune on supporting artists she admired. From 1909 on her financial problems steadily increased and she was obliged to gradually sell all her art.

Exclusive Tour (in Dutch)


The exhibition is accompanied by the richly illustrated book (in Dutch) ‘Fatale Kunst. Leven en werk van  Sara de Swart (1861-1951)’ by Jaap Versteegh. ISBN 978 6004 223 21 NUR 654. Publisher Vantilt. The research conducted by the art historian and artist Jaap Versteegh provides a wonderful opportunity to see work by Sara de Swart in the context of her collection and life story in the Kunsthal.


09_Isaac Israëls_Kunsthal Rotterdam.jpg
Isaac Israels
05_Emilie van Kerckhoff_Kunsthal Rotterdam.jpg
Emilie van Kerckhoff
Kunsthal Rotterdam is open!
Online tickets only. Book your time slot now. Read about how you can help us make your visit a pleasant and safe one.
Book now