There are many famous Dutch artists, including Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt. However one Dutch artist that never seems to be mentioned or heard of very much, is Anton Pieck. He created many romanticised illustrations and paintings of Dutch life which have appeared on Christmas cards and calendars the world over.
Pieck was born in 1895 in Den Helder, and won his first prize for art at the age of 11. He then went on to graduate from art college aged 17. Throughout his life he travelled all over the world, including England, France, Sweden, Italy and Morocco, drawing and painting throughout his travels.
However, what Pieck is probably best known for is his involvement with designing almost everything in Efteling. He was approached in the early 1950s to contribute to a fairytale park, and his unique style shaped Efteling; most noticeably the Fairy Tale Forest, with its quaint buildings and quirky characters. Since then, designers have taken on and developed his style for more recent additions to the park, which continues to grow.
The buildings he created in his illustrations were charming and rough around the edges, literally! Look for a straight line in the Hansel and Gretel building above…Yeah, there aren’t really any to find. This translated well into the real life buildings that were erected in the Fairy Tale Forest, as it made them look like they had been there forever, weathered by years of use. It isn’t just Pieck’s buildings that were placed into the park. Many of his characters were replicated and inserted throughout the park, including the frogs from The Frog King, Snow White and her dwarves, and Sleeping Beauty. If you look at the illustrations of these fairy tales and then look at them in Efteling’s forest, you can see that almost nothing has been changed, in most cases. For example, the Little Mermaid fountain:
Pieck passed away in Overveen in 1987 at the age of 92, but his artistic talent lives on in its larger than life state in Efteling. There is also an Anton Pieck museum located in Hattem, not too far from Kaatsheuvel.