The van Gogh scholar J.-B. de la Faille studied under Bremmer. Independent art educator and adviser; van Gogh and Dutch artists scholar. Bremmer received his primary education at a boarding school in Roermond and attended high school in Leiden, where his parents owned a hotel (Hotel Rijnland). He also took classes with the painter D. L. Kooreman. In 1889 he left school and enrolled at the Teeken- en Schilderacademie (Academy for Drawing and Painting) in The Hague. He quit after one year and together with some friends he rented a studio in Leiden. Two years later he moved to the attic of his parents' hotel and started working on his own. At that time he met the Dutch avant-garde painter Jan Toorop and other artists belonging to his circle, including Theo van Rijsselberghe and Henri van de Velde. These two painters, who together with Toorop were members of the Brussels group Les Vingt, stayed in Hotel Rijnland when visiting Leiden. Inspired by them, Bremmer painted a number of neo-impressionist and pointillist works. His studio became a meeting place where he discussed art and literature with visitors and friends. Bremmer had great admiration for the philosophy of Spinoza. In 1893 he met the jurist and sociologist Sebald R. Steinmetz (1862-1940) who encouraged him to organize drawing classes for typesetters. A year later, Steinmetz brought him in contact with the three Beekhuis sisters, who attended his classes with great enthusiasm. One of them, Leida, became Bremmer's wife in 1895. The couple moved to The Hague, where Bremmer from 1897 onwards began a career as an independent art educator and adviser. He attracted a select audience teaching at his home in The Hague and elsewhere in the Netherlands. Bremmer brought art works to be discussed to the class which he often sold afterwards to his students. In 1906 he wrote an introduction to how to view art, Een inleiding tot het zien van beeldende kunst. Between 1903 and 1910 he was the editor of monthly portfolios, each containing 9 art reproductions with additional commentaries, Moderne Kunstwerken. From 1914 to 1938, he edited Beeldende Kunst, a comparable monthly publication. Bremmer promoted a number of Dutch avant-garde artists. They included, in addition to Toorop, Charley Toorop, A.C. Willink, J. Sluyters, John Rädecker, and Bart van der Leck. One of Bremmer's favorite painters was Vincent van Gogh. In 1907 he became a purchasing adviser to Helene Kröller-Müller (1868-1939), one of his pupils and wife of an industrial magnate. Bremmer helped build her collection, which included a considerable number of Van Gogh paintings. The collection later became the national Kröller-Müller Museum at Otterlo, which opened in 1938. Bremmer also helped other pupils purchasing art works. When the first professorship of art history was established at Utrecht University in 1907, some of Bremmer's influential admirers proposed him for that position, but it was Willem Vogelsang who became the first ordinarius art history professor at Utrecht University. In 1929 Bremmer came in contact with G. J. Nieuwenhuizen Segaar who opened an art firm in The Hague in 1933. In close collaboration with Bremmer, Nieuwenhuizen handled works from artists belonging to Bremmer's circle. Bremmer's popularity and his influence on the contemporary art scene lingered until 1940. At age 80 he received a honorary doctorate from Groningen University. Bremmer was not a scholar and had little esteem for art historical research. His 1911 introductory essay on Van Gogh in his Vincent van Gogh. Inleidende beschouwingen, uses an analysis based on a mystical contact between himself and the work of art. Bremmer played a major role in introducing contemporary art to a broader audience in the first part of the twentieth century. His lack of a scholarly background and direct involvement in the art market has been criticized.
Bremmer, H. P.
Henricus Petrus Bremmer
Een inleiding tot het zien van beeldende kunst. Amsterdam: W. Versluys, 1906; Delftsch Aardewerk: een practisch aesthetische studie. Amsterdam: W. Versluys, 1908; Practisch aesthetische studies.Amsterdam: W. Versluys, 1909; Vincent van Gogh. Inleidende beschouwingen. Amsterdam: W. Versluys, 1911; Pr. Saenredam: achttien lichtdrukken. The Hague: G. J. Nieuwenhuizen Segaar, 1938.
Herdenking Dr. H. P. Bremmer. Uitgegeven na zijn overlijden op 10 januari 1956, door oud-cursisten, vrienden en leerlingen. Rotterdam: Comité Herdenking Dr. H. P. Bremmer, 1956; Vink, H. J. "Bremmer, Hendricus Petrus (1871-1956)" in Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland 3: 73-75; Vink, H. J. "Bremmer, Spinoza en de abstracte kunst" Jong Holland 3, 2 (1987): 40-47; Hammacher, A. M. "Van Gogh and the Words" in The Works of Vincent van Gogh. His Paintings and Drawings. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff International, 1970, p. 24; Joosten, J. M. "De Leidse tijd van H. P. Bremmer, 1871-1895" in Jaarboekje voor geschiedenis en oudheidkunde van Leiden en omstreken 63 (1971): 79-119; Willink, Joost. "Bremmer, H(endricus) P(etrus)." Dictionary of Art 4: 743; Balk, Hildelies. H. P. "De freule, de professor, de koopman en zijn vrouw. Het publiek van H. P. Bremmer" Jong Holland 9, 2 (1993): 4-24; idem "Bremmer en Leiden" in Wintgens Hötte, Doris and De Jongh-Vermeulen, Ankie (eds) Dageraad van de Moderne Kunst. Leiden en omgeving 1890-1940. Zwolle: Waanders, 1999, pp. 41-70; idem "De expertises van H. P. Bremmer" RKD Bulletin 1 (2000): 7-17; .Het netwerk van H. P. Bremmer. Kunstenaars, verzamelaars en de markt voor moderne kunst. Publicatie bij de gelijknamige tentoonstelling van 1 sept. t/m 11 november 2001, Hannema-de Stuers Fundatie. Heino/Wijhe, 2001; De kunstpaus H. P. Bremmer: 1871-1956. Bussum: Thoth, 2006.