Hefting, Victorine

Full Name: 
Hefting, Victorine
Other Names: 
Johanna Victorine Christine Hefting
Date Born: 
1905
Date Died: 
1993
Place Born: 
Utrecht, Netherlands
Home Country: 
Netherlands
Overview: 
Director of the Municipal Museum The Hague, 1948-1950. Hefting attended the Gymnasium in Utrecht. Being in poor health, she left this school prematurely for a cure in Switzerland. She returned to the Netherlands to attend a school for social work in Amsterdam, but when she graduated at age 21, she still was too young for being employed in this sector. She was appointed assistant librarian at the Institute for Art History at Utrecht University. At the invitation of Professor Willem Vogelsang (q.v.), she began to attend his classes. This was the beginning of her art history study, which she completed in the following years. Vogelsang, for whom she had great admiration, became her mentor and inspiration. During an internship, she set up the catalog of the Kröller-Müller collection, which had come in the possession of the State of the Netherlands. In this process she had frequent conversations with Helene Kröller (1869-1939) in Kröller's residence in Wassenaar and in her hunting lodge Sint Hubertus in De Hoge Veluwe. Hefting's career at the Municipal Museum in The Hague began in 1938 with an appointment as assistant. Her first marriage (married women not allowed to hold professional positions at that time) forced her resignation. When she was removed from her abusive husband, Hefting returned to the position in 1941. When Gerhardus Knuttel, director and curator of modern art (1889-1968), was arrested by the Nazis in 1942, Hefting unofficially became acting-director of the museum until the end of the war. Knuttel then returned briefly, leaving the museum again in 1947. In 1948, Hefting became his successor as curator and director, but again had to give up when she married for the second time (to the publisher Bert Bakker), in August 1950. Hefting's short directorship was a period full of new initiatives. In the footsteps of H. E. van Gelder (q.v.), she maintained and broadened the special admission discount for school children and teachers. The education program included guided tours and lectures. As curator of modern art, Hefting organized yearly exhibitions of artists who worked in The Hague. In this period, and also in later years, Hefting took an active part in restoring cultural life in post-war The Hague. She belonged to a circle of writers that included the poet Martinus Nijhoff (1894-1953). Following her divorce from Bakker in 1964, she focused on her Ph.D. She obtained the doctoral degree from Utrecht University in 1968 with a dissertation on the letters of Johan Barthold Jongkind (1819-1891), a Dutch painter who settled in Paris in 1846, Jongkind d'après sa correspondance. Jan van Gelder (q.v.) was her adviser. A further monograph on this painter followed in 1975, Jongkind: sa vie, son oeuvre, son époque. She gathered her information for this work from various institutions in Paris, including the Louvre Museum and the Bibliothèque Nationale. She was interested in the artistic milieu in which Jongkind had lived and worked, as well as in the French art criticism of his day. She frequently stayed at the Institut Néerlandais in Paris, where she occasionally presented papers and organized exhibitions of Dutch artists, including Jongkind (1971) and Jan Toorop (1858-1928) (1977). In 1977 she published a monograph on a contemporary painter, Christiaan de Moor (1899-1981). Her monograph on Toorop, Jan Toorop: een kennismaking, appeared in 1989. Making use of the painter's existing correspondence, Hefting situated the person and his work in the international art scene of his day. In 1992, a year before she died, she published J. B. Jongkind: voorloper van het impressionnisme (precursor of impressionism). In 1988, the municipality of The Hague paid tribute to this remarkable woman by instituting the Victorine Hefting prize, which each year is awarded to an outstanding female contributor to the arts in and around The Hague. Hefting's autobiography, which became a bestseller, was recorded, written down, and edited by Nienke Begemann in 1988. Hefting was a scholar with a broad knowledge of the literature, art criticism, and the cultural context of the period in which artists lived and worked. In her eighties she stated that she always had been fully committed to producing art-historical work of high quality.
Bibliography: 
[Disseratation Utrecht] Jongkind d'après sa correspondance. Utrecht: Haentjens Dekker & Gumbert, 1969; Jongkind : sa vie, son oeuvre, son époque. Paris: Arts et métiers graphiques, 1975; Christiaan de Moor. Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek, 1977; Schilders in Oosterbeek, 1840-1870. Zutphen: Walburga Pers, 1981; Jan Toorop: een kennismaking. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1989; Jongkind, Johan Barthold in The Dictionary of Art 17 (1996), pp. 643-644; J. B. Jongkind: voorloper van het impressionnisme. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1992.
Sources: 
Begemann, Nienke. Victorine. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1988; van Lindert, Juleke. Victorine Hefting (1905-1993): un lien particulier avec la France. Septentrion (1993), 4: 70-72.