Arthur Robert Hughes (1900-1992), Major of the Indian Signal Corps. (Auckland War Memorial, New Zealand.)
Dutch Lieutenant Simon van Schie (1903-1970), as portrayed in Changi. (Museum Bronbeek, The Netherlands)
Portrait of Australian major general Frederick Galleghan (1897-1971), drawn by Brouwer and used as cover for Galleghan’s biography.

Henk Brouwer Where are the Portraits?

Henk Brouwer (1903-1970) was a Dutch artist and soldier who – during WWII – was a prisoner-of-war (POW) in a number of Japanese camps in the Dutch East Indies and Singapore (Changi). In these camps he drew or painted the portraits of more than 300 of his fellow-soldiers. After WWII these portraits got dispersed all over the world. Now a group of Dutch historians, working together as Tijdlijn Historische Projecten (in short: Tijdlijn), is preparing an exhibition and a publication about Henk Brouwer’s work. Crucial to this initiative is Tijdlijn’s international effort to collect as many of Brouwer’s war portraits as possible.

Do you have a portrait? Please let us know!

  • Changi Prisoner of War camp
    Changi POW camp, watercolour painting by Henk Brouwer
  • Page from Brouwer notebook
    Henk Brouwer recorded the names, addresses and signatures of the people he portrayed.

    During his years as a POW Henk Brouwer produced hundreds of sketches and drawings of daily life in the camps. He also started to portray his fellow-POWs. His remarkable talent earned him the nickname of ‘Rembrandt’. Because of the international character of these camps, he not only portrayed many Australian, English and Dutch inmates, but also Americans, Indians, Scotsmen and even a Japanese officer. Among them were a remarkable number of officers. In Changi Henk Brouwer accurately recorded the names and in many cases even the signatures in a notebook. This booklet, containing a wealth of information, survived the war. Thanks to this notebook we know the names of more than 200 men portrayed and even their home-addresses at the time.

     Who is Henk Brouwer?   News The Names

    News

    Artwork rediscovered

    Apart from our search for portraits, we also hope to find other artwork of Henk Brouwer. Brouwer worked for the Kolff advertising agency in Batavia from 1935-1940. This week we got hold of a rare copy of the 1936 Christmas edition of ‘d’Orient’, a glossy magazine with several ads drawn by Henk Brouwer. We recognize them by his style and his signature (which differs from his later signature). 

    Again a new portrait

    While the Bronbeek-expo receives many visitors every day, we continue the search for portraits. And with succes. This week we found the portrait from the Australian Lloyd Cahill, who worked as pow for 6 months on the notorious Death Railway. Back in Australia he didn’t tell his family about his horrifying war experiences. After his death they found some personal belongings hidden in a cupboard. Among them this beautiful portrait Henk Brouwer made of him in Changi. We will add it to our gallery of portraits in Bronbeek. To be seen until 6 January 2019! 

    See also our portrait gallery on the website and his little biography.

     
     

    Brouwer’s ‘silent piano’

    One of the great stories in Henk Brouwer’s manuscript tells about a ‘Klankloze Klavier’ (Soundless Piano), as Brouwer calls it. In Changi, Brouwer made a practice piano from waste materials to keep his fingers supple. His fellow inmates laughed at him, but Brouwer took revenge by giving a silent concert, the third part of the second piano concerto by Tchaikovsky. His friends listened breathlessly and treated him to a huge applause at the end.

    For the exhibition in Museum Bronbeek we reconstructed this Soundless Piano. Later we found out that Henk Brouwer was not the only one with a soundless practice piano: composers as Mozart and Liszt also had one. Attached a picture of ‘our’ piano and one of a soundless piano at the Lisztmuseum in Raiding, Austria.

     

    Opening exhibition 9 August

    Emotional opening of our exhibition ‘Gevangen in beeld’ in Museum Bronbeek, Arnhem. With a posthumous honouring of Landstormsoldier Henk Brouwer: his son Menno came over from South Africa to collect the Mobilisation Cross. With Henk Brouwers work Museum Bronbeek honours an almost forgotten group of Dutch POW’s.

    You can visit the exhibition until 6 January 2019. 

    Photo’s: Willem van Gerwen & Karin Veenendaal

    In collaboration with

    NIOD the Netherlands
    Bronbeek National Museum the Netherlands
    Imperial War Museum London
    The National Museum of Singapore
    Uitgeverij Matrijs Utrecht

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    4 days ago

    Henk Brouwer Changi

    We zoeken behalve portretten ook naar ander werk van Henk Brouwer. Zo weten we dat hij van 1935-40 werkte bij reclamebureau Kolff in Batavia. Deze week wisten we een zeldzaam exemplaar te bemachtigen van het glossy tijdschrift d'Orient, uitgegeven door Kolff. Een extra dik kerstnummer uit 1936 met reclametekeningen van Brouwer. De tekeningen zijn herkenbaar aan zijn toenmalige signatuur. ... See MoreSee Less

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    3 weeks ago

    Henk Brouwer Changi

    Nieuw portret Henk Brouwer!
    Terwijl de expo in Museum Bronbeek druk wordt bezocht, gaat de zoektocht naar portretten door. En met succes! Deze week vonden we een nieuw portret van de Australiër Lloyd Cahill, die tijdens WOII zes maanden met zijn bataljon aan de beruchte Dodenspoorlijn werkte. In 1945 werd hij in Changi bevrijd. Zijn familie wist niets over die loodzware tijd. Na zijn dood vonden zij tussen zijn persoonlijke spullen ook het fraaie portret dat Henk Brouwer in Changi van hem heeft gemaakt. Een mooie toevoeging aan de portrettengalerij in Bronbeek. Nog te zien tot 6 jan. 2019.
    Graag delen!

    New portrait Henk Brouwer
    While the Bronbeek-expo receives many visitors every day, we continue the search for portraits. And with succes. This week we found the portrait from the Australian Lloyd Cahill, who worked as pow for 6 months on the notorious Death Railway. Back in Australia he didn’t tell his family about his horrifying war experiences. After his death they found some personal belongings hidden in a cupboard. Among them the beautiful portrait Henk Brouwer made of him in Changi. We will add it to our gallery of portraits in Bronbeek. To be seen until 6 January 2019!
    Please share!
    ... See MoreSee Less

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    1 month ago

    Henk Brouwer Changi

    One of the great stories in Henk Brouwer's manuscript tells about a 'Klankloze Klavier' (Soundless Piano), as Brouwer calls it. In Changi, Brouwer made a practice piano from waste materials to keep his fingers supple. His fellow inmates laughed at him, but Brouwer took revenge by giving a silent concert, the third part of the second piano concerto by Tchaikovsky. His friends listened breathlessly and treated him to a huge applause at the end.

    For the exhibition in Museum Bronbeek we reconstructed this Soundless Piano. Later we found out that Henk Brouwer was not the only one with a soundless practice piano: composers as Mozart and Liszt also had one. Attached a picture of 'our' piano and one of a soundless piano at the Lisztmuseum in Raiding, Austria.
    ... See MoreSee Less

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    1 month ago

    Henk Brouwer Changi

    Een van de mooie verhalen in Henk Brouwers manuscript gaat over een 'Klankloze Klavier', zoals Brouwer het zelf noemt. Van afvalmaterialen maakte hij in Changi een oefenpiano om zijn vingers soepel te houden. Zijn maten lachten hem uit, maar Brouwer revancheerde zich door een geluidloos concert te geven, het derde deel van het tweede pianoconcert van Tchaikovsky. Zijn celgenoten luisterden ademloos en trakteerden hem na afloop op een enorm applaus.

    Voor de tentoonstelling in Museum Bronbeek hebben we deze Klankloze Klavier laten nabouwen. Later kwamen we er achter dat Henk Brouwer niet de enige was met een geluidloze oefenpiano: ook componisten als Mozart en Liszt hadden zo'n instrument. Bijgaand een foto van 'onze' piano en de oefenpiano uit het Lisztmuseum in Raiding, Oostenrijk.
    ... See MoreSee Less

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