Dirk Baksteen Biography

Dirk Baksteen




 Dirk Baksteen, son of Dirk Baksteen and Jansje van Heiningen, was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands on March 29, 1886. He grew up in a family of ten children and had to help the family working as a house painter. Dirk, however, as well as his brother Gerard, became creative painters at a young age. On the advice of this brother, Baksteen landed in Antwerp in 1912. In De Kempen, both brothers came into contact with the painter Jakob Smits, who was also born in Rotterdam. Gerard returned to Antwerp, but Dirk stayed with Smits to apprentice with him as a painter preferring this to an academic painting program like his brother. Smits and Dirk spent many hours in Smits' studio, who soon realized that Dirk had more talent for graphic art. Because of his stay in Mol, Baksteen is counted as a member of the Molse School.

Baksteen also learned etching from American William Sherwood through Smits. He showed Dirk how he could print his etchings. Soon Baksteen was nicknamed "Etser van de Kempen" and his work became known in Belgium and later also in Germany and the United States. He produced more than 300 etchings. Work of Dirk Baksteen can be found in the Jakob Smitsmuseum in Mol in Belgium.

Unfortunately, perhaps, his works were also very popular in Nazi Germany. Grateful for this success, he had his etching 'The Bird Cage' donated to Adolf Hitler by the DeVlag on the occasion of his 55th birthday (20 April  1944). During the war, Baksteen was the cell leader of 'DeVlag'  (The Flag) in Mol and 'DeVlag' - referring to the region Kempenland. For this activity he was imprisoned in the 'Hechteniskamp Lokeren' after the war, until 1947.

Dirk Baksteen died on September 24, 1971.