An art dealer's blog: Off the map

Posted on 22 March 2019

As an art dealer you come to the most extraordinary places. One moment you are negotiating a deal with old chic in their kitchen – you are definitely not allowed in the living room! – and the next moment you are helping an art collector move his most precious possessions, namely his carefully collected art treasures, to his new home. A while ago, an older couple asked me to move their collection. After much deliberation, they had decided to sell their beautiful, free-standing villa in enclave A. in municipality B.


Three generations have seen their offspring grow up there. The children could play to their heart’s content in the leafy garden. After almost a hundred years, the atmospheric stained-glass, designed by Willem Bogtman from Haarlem, is still in excellent condition. The mahogany panelling in the living room, executed by firm J.B. Hillen from Amsterdam, has become even more beautiful over the years. The suites surrounding the central hallway are all equally spacious and cosy. The architectonic house is ready for the next hundred years, you would think.


A few months after moving the extremely delicate art collection, I am driving down the street again. I want to point out the charming villa to my passenger. My eyes are scanning the front yard that seems even bigger than I remember. The next moment I feel icy shivers down my spine. The house, the house is gone!!! As if it has just gone into hiding and can reappear any second. That villa just belonged here. But now the front garden flows seamlessly into the back garden.


How is this possible! Why was this characteristic villa apparently not considered a monument and why was such an authentic interior, in the style of the Nederlandse Nieuwe Kunst (Dutch Art Nouveau), not preserved? Since a few years, a new inventory project started in Amsterdam South. Residences from the period 1875 – 1945, with an architectonically designed interior, are being photographed, described and, if possible, attributed to an architect or designer. Thanks to projects like this, we can hopefully experience our cultural history in the following centuries.


Do you know such a remarkable interior in your neighbourhood or street? I look forward to your message to


Wiljan Versteeg is co-founder and owner of Kunstconsult, art dealer specialized in 20th century applied arts. 



Text: Wiljan Versteeg

Photo: Erik Rijper


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