‘De Nieuwe Mensch’
From the collection of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
h 277 cm x w 172 cm
In 1940 the leader of the Dutch Nazi Party (NSB), Anton Mussert, received this painting as a gift from the Dutch businessman Louis van Leeuwen Boomkamp before he departed for the Dutch East Indies. Mussert hung it in his office at NSB Headquarters in Utrecht.
Henri van de Velde had painted this work around 1937 commissioned by Van Leeuwen Boomkamp, who was also a member of the NSB. The painting depicts De Nieuwe Mensch (The New Man): a figure with a flaming sword in his right hand. Books by Marx, Darwin and Voltaire are lying on the ground next to a skull with a crown. When the painting was exhibited before the war, the reactions of the press were predominantly positive. From 1942 Anton Mussert used De Nieuwe Mensch as propaganda material. The hero depicted had to be seen as the personification of National Socialist ideals. Mussert had posters and postcards of the painting circulated, stating that the painting was made especially for him.
It was assumed for a long time that the painting had been destroyed, until it resurfaced in 2003 by an art dealer in Belgium.