Still Life with Bread
h 65 cm x w 75 cm
The painter Johan van Sweden, who was also a member of the Groningen artists’ collective De Ploeg (The Plough Team), ended up in the Vught Concentration Camp in the Netherlands because of his Resistance activities. He made commissioned portraits for some of the camp guards and the SS there and because of this received a number of special privileges. He was provided with his own studio, while the guards went about getting him painting supplies.
Later his privileges increased: once he was even allowed to visit his wife and daughter outside the camp. This painting: Still Life with Bread was also made in Camp Vught by Van Sweden. Fellow prisoners later recounted that he deliberately stretched out the time he worked on it, regularly requesting more bread and fruit ‘to paint’. The food was consumed by his fellow prisoners to supplement their limited rations. Two still lifes were smuggled out of the camp and saved. After his time in Vught, Van Sweden was sent to the Dachau Concentration Camp in Poland. He was liberated there in April 1945.