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Mondrian's fascination with the dwarf Doc from Snow White

RKD receives Carel Mondrian archive from Van Reekum-van Moorselaar Foundation

Thanks to a generous donation from the Van Reekum-van Moorselaar Foundation, the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History has acquired a group of papers – including a Disney postcard – that belonged to the archive of Carel Mondrian. The Foundation bought the archive at an auction in early December with the intention of presenting it to the RKD. The archive contains several postcards from Piet Mondrian to his brother Carel. The donation strengthens the RKD's position as an international centre for the study of the renowned artist's life and work.


Disney postcard

On 2 October 1938 Piet Mondrian sent his brother Carel a card, giving him his new address and with the following message:

"It was kind of you to drop by. Thanks also for your kind letters. For now, I can tell you that I’m happy here. The landlord has had the room cleaned by blanche-neige and the squirrel whitewash the walls with its tail. I will write as soon as I can. For the time being, the wicked witch ‘War’ has thankfully gone away, heh."

Piet Mondrian wrote this text on a Disney postcard featuring the character 'Doc' from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He had recently seen the cartoon in Paris with Carel and was clearly a big admirer. One of his treasured possessions was an LP with the soundtrack to the film.

Front and back of a postcard from Piet Mondrian to his brother Carel, 2 October 1938. © RKD


Family photographs and letters

In addition to postcards sent by Mondrian, the archive also includes a number of unpublished family photos as well as letters to Carel from Piet and the other Mondrian brothers. These included Willem, who had moved to South Africa in 1895 and was appointed Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau in 1920, in recognition of the fundraising he did in his adopted country to support the famine-stricken population of the Netherlands after the First World War.


Documents in the Gemeentemuseum The Hague

A selection of the documents will be on display at the Gemeentemuseum The Hague for several months in the exhibition Mondrian and De Stijl, opening in March 2019. The complete archive will be made available later this year via www.rkd.nl. The postcards by Mondrian will be included in the Mondrian Edition Project, a research project led by the RKD and the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING). The first 300 letters by Piet Mondrian will be published in 2020, along with 5 of his theoretical texts. The remaining 1350 surviving letters as well as roughly 70 theoretical writings will be published online in the following years at www.mondrianpapers.org.

Commenting on the donation, Professor Chris Stolwijk, general director of the RKD, says: "Thanks to this acquisition we can now form a new and more rounded impression of the Mondrian family. The RKD is delighted with and extremely grateful for the donation made by the Van Reekum-van Moorselaar Foundation."