L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, June 2, 2023

Elegant émigré - On the Terrace / portrait of Louis Richard Drenthe by Nola Hatterman, 1930


In a letter written in the 1980s, the artist recalled, "Then I started on a fairly large painting of Lou Drenthe. He was sitting on a café terrace, princely, beautiful clothes, yellow gloves on the table in front of him, with a glass of beer, on the tables white and red checkered tablecloths. It really was a unique painting and I was successful with it. Working with Lou Drenthe was very pleasant, he was a nice guy." Also, it appears he began to educate her about the abuses in his home country, then still a Dutch colony, "(…) he was the first to tell me about the conditions and relations in Suriname."


Circa 1920s.

The man in the painting was Louis "Lou" Richard Drenthe (25 September 1901, Paramaribo - 18 August 1990, Amsterdam). Born in Suriname, his paternal ancestors were enslaved on the sugar plantation De Guinesche Vriendschap. He was originally a pipefitter, but after arriving in Amsterdam in 1925, he earned his living in other ways. He worked as a model and actor, and waited tables in the first Surinamese restaurant in Amsterdam. But above all, he was a trumpet player and sometime drummer, associating with the likes of famous jazz musicians Freddy Johnson and Kid Dynamite. 

Drenthe with his trumpet at center, orchestra leader (?) of the St. Louis Rhythm Kings (?), circa 1930s.

According to his daughter, he was a always a very dignified, confident man, but by the 1950s he was occasionally forced to take jobs that he felt were beneath him: "Father had no work at the time, so he did everything he could. He had to make some money for his household, didn't he?" He struggled with health problems later in life and was no longer able to play music. But he helped his wife Letty with her successful perfume business. He died in Amsterdam at the age of eighty-eight.

(It was formerly believed that the model for the painting was Jimmy van der Lak, also an émigré from Suriname, who found success as a boxer, barman, and cabaret artist. He was also a co-owner of the Surinamese restaurant where Drenthe had been employed.)


Artist Hatterman with the painting, 1932. Still from a newsreel.

Nola Hatterman (12 August 1899, Amsterdam - 8 May 1984, Paramaribo), Dutch painter and actress. Born the only child of a successful accountant, she drew and painted from a young age and followed an education at the gymnasium. Among her school friends were many Indonesian students whose parents were affiliated with her father's offices. Later she would say that these early friendships engendered her passion for painting people of color. At fifteen, those still continuing to paint, she chose to study at an acting school, Amsterdam's Toneel Academie. She went on to perform with different theatrical organizations, and also appeared in a few films, but eventually moved back in with her parents, in whose home she had a workshop in the attic, where she could concentrate on painting. She studied with Vittorio Schiavon and Charles Haak, and also came in contact with Surinamers who earned money as models. Through her association with them, she became more politically aware and was very impressed with the 1934 book Wij slaven van Suriname (We Slaves of Surinam) by Surinamese resistance fighter and anti-colonialist author Anton de Kom. She decided to work on historical illustrations to educate children about their heroes, and she eventually formed the idea of going to Surinam to open a school, but was then delayed by the war. After her mother died in 1953, she moved to Paramaribo where she began teaching; among her notable students were Armand Baag and Ruben Karsters. She died in a car crash there at the age of eighty-four. After her death, the Nola Hatterman Institute - the name later changed to Nola Hatterman Art Academy - was opened by her former students.


  1. Een contrast van tween mensen, een zwarte man en een blanke vrouw, de poser en de artiest.
    Ironisch - Hij is geboren in Surinam, zij is geboren in Nederland.
    Hij sterft in Nederland en zij sterft in Surinam.
    Gods wil voor beide, zoals veel kunstenaars, kampioenen voor het fatsoen van gelijkheid.

    1. Herr Drenthe, ein eleganter und kultivierter mann.
      Frau Hatterman, so inklusiver und fortschrittlicher aktivist.