516 Commercial Street

Gerrit Hondius Studio | Fine Arts Work Center

It’s fitting that this sweet little home and studio should belong to the Fine Arts Work Center, since it is associated with at least five of the artists whose careers have enriched the town’s cultural life: Robert Motherwell, Maurice Sterne, Irving Marantz, Gerrit Hondius and Paul Bowen. Hondius (1891-1970) is most closely associated with this propery, since this was his summer home and studio from 1962 until his death eight years later. His widow, Paula (Kessler) Hondius, a pianist and piano instructor, donated the property to the center in 1980.

C. Arnold Slade and his wife, Irene W. Slade, purchased the house in 1918 from William H. and Anna M. Young. In the summer of 1942, they rented the house to Motherwell and his first wife, Maria Emilia Ferreira y Moyers. Two summers later, the Slade cottage was rented to Sterne. Marantz was a tenant in the 1950s and conducted his Provincetown School of Painting Here.

After a brief interim ownership, Gerrit and Paula Hondius bought the house in 1962. Hondius was Dutch, of distinguished lineage on both sides of his family tree. Through his mother, Petronella Fabritius, he was descended from Karel Fabritius (≤1622-1654) a student of Rembrandt and teacher of Vermeer. Through his father, Jan Hondius, he was descended from Jodocus Hondius (or Joost de Hondt, 1563-1612), an eminent cartographer. He studied at the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague and then, on arriving in this country during World War I, at the Art Students League of New York. (Where else? Don’t you get the feeling sometimes that there must be a secret tunnel running from West 57th Street out the end of the Cape?)

In the inaugural — and, unfortunately, final — issue of Inside Provincetown magazine in 1966, his work was described:

The paintings of Gerrit stem first from the Dutch paintings of the Hague school, and developed into a style reminiscent of the French and German Expressionism. He is interested in humanity, and feels that the study of color is the greatest contribution of painting in the 20th century. He has never experimented with non-objective art.

The New York Times said he “often painted ballerinas, circuses and masked figures as well as still lifes and landscapes.” When not on Commercial Street, he lived at 210 West 72nd Street in Manhattan. He was represented in the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Times said, and had had 50 one-man shows around the country. (“Gerrit Hondius, 79, Expressionist, Dies,” The New York Times, 23 July 1970.)

Subsequent tenants have included the sculptor Paul Bowen (b 1951). It’s been used in recent years as housing for the center’s executive director, currently Margaret Murphy.





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