Who was Anna Agnes Witsen? It’s this question that has kept Jitske Schols occupied for the past 30
years. In the first part of this series (etude # 01) she goes in search of the life and times of this woman
who lived on the same address as she did, only a century before her.
The estate of Ewijckshoeve was in the late nineteenth century the ‘country residence’ of the patrician
family Witsen. Their son Willem Witsen was a Dutch painter, etcher and photographer associated with
the Amsterdam Impressionism movement. Thanks to his generosity, Ewijckshoeve became a gathering
place for writers, musicians and painters and formed the backdrop of the Tachtigers movement who
proclaimed the principle of l’art pour l’art.
When Schols grew up on the same estate in the eighties of the twentieth century, she first heard about
this history a century earlier. She became fascinated by the sister of Willem, Anna. Who was she? What
moved her in life? What was her role and how can that be seen in the time in which she lived?
In this first episode of Songs for soprano (etude # 01) Schols fantasizes about the life of this woman in
the place she knows so well, but in a time that is strange to her. The images reflects her own memories
that she mixes with representations of the life of those days. Memories, imaginations and impressions
form her idea of the life of this woman. With this series Schols want to emphasize the story of Anna
Witsen. It seems Anna was not respected or ’seen' in her own time, the reason why Schols wants to
give her a posthumously stage in this time.
For this series Schols went back to the estate for a number of landscape images. She used various
techniques that reminded her of the times in which the Witsens lived and which Willem Witsen used
himself, combined with modern techniques. For example, she has been working with slow shutter
speeds and etching techniques to tell this story. The names in this series refer to the musical terms and
reflects the sentiment she recognizes in a photo.