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!
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.
Changi POW camp, watercolour painting by Henk Brouwer
Henk Brouwer recorded the names, addresses and signatures of the people he portrayed.
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