This enchanting work by Dutch artist, A.E. Herrmann depicts an exotic scene in Bali. In this magnificent painting depicting four Balinese women packing baskets, a vivid background is painted so that it is vibrant with the tropical colors of Indonesia. The stunning melon-hued temple becomes a focus in the painting and evokes a serene and mesmerizing scene of a faraway land.
Indonesia and in particular Bali and Java was an extremely important destination for many early 20th century Dutch artists and a number of important painters lived and worked there, including Rudolph Bonnet, Arie Smit and other European artists. In the 1920s Bali became an artist enclave and the landscape and people of the region can be seen in many works by European artists. Western artists, such as Herrmann had a huge impact on the production of Balinese artists and their work transformed as a result of the cultural interaction. Western artists imbued Balinese art with perspective and attention to anatomy as well as encouraging experimentation and a departure from tradition.
Herrmann became renowned as a master of Indonesian scenes and in 1931 applied to participate in the Colonial Exhibition in Paris. A design for a poster by his hand for the fair in Bandung, Java, the ‘Eerste Nederlandsvh-Indische Jaarbeurs’ in 1920, is reproduced in “Weekblad voor Indie”, n. 52, April 4, 1920 and an advertisement for “The Ribbon Cigarette Cy” in “De Java-Bode” of September 11, 1936 bears the same signature. His work evolved at a time in Europe where colonial images of people and the landscape were extremely popular. Herrmann became famous for his views of the exotic Indonesian countryside and was particularly renowned for his paintings depicting beautiful women and their daily activities. Important collections of colonial itinerant artists are not complete without his inclusion.