Once the richest woman in the country, with a keen interest in art and architecture, Hélène Kröller-Müller asked renown architect H.P. Berlage to design a country home. Jachthuis Sint Hubertus is nothing short of a masterpiece inside and outside. Although designing it may have felt like a nail in his coffin to the architect at times.
Due to covid 19 our visit was cancelled and we moved Hélène to our bucket list for 2021. We can’t wait.
Around 1915 architect Hendrikus Petrus Berlage (1856-1934) was commissioned the design of Jachthuis Sint Hubertus in Hoenderloo (De Hoge Veluwe). And not just the house – a he usually did – but also the interior, the furniture (every chair to every door handle) and the surrounding gardens.
Berlage was know for his love of materials like brick, natural stone. And of course his colored, specially-glazed bricks indoors, which instantly spells ‘Berlage’ the minute you see it. The majestic 30-metre-high watchtower overlooking the estate was Hélène’s idea as she had once seen a similar tower in Italy.
Nail to his coffin
Jachthuis Sint Hubertus was not Mr Berlage’s first assignment for the Kröller-Müller family, but it may well have been his most cumbersome one. Both Hélène and her husband Anton had set ideas of their own. Such interference did not go down well with Berlage, being a socialist at heart now employed and told what to do by rich industrialists. When the couple insisted on adding a greenhouse to the almost finished residence, Berlage quit. Belgian architect Henry van der Velde later designed the greenhouse.
Berlage’s designs for Jachthuis Sint Hubertus are as beautiful on paper as they are in real life:
About Hélène, a woman between love and art
Hélène Kröller-Müller (1869 – 1939) was born in Essen, Germany, daughter to wealthy industrialist Wilhelm Müller. At her father’s request she married Dutch shipping tycoon Anton Kröller, her father’s business partner. It was not a mismatch, Anton seems like a good natured and increasingly rich (very rich) fellow who is proud of his wife’s growing art collection (estimated value today 5 billion euros). She was a woman who did not take life, love, motherhood and art lightly. Intelligent and enterprising, but hard to please if you were her employee, architect or even her child.
Buying Van Goghs in Paris
Hélène was one of the first European women to put together a major art collection. Guided by her arts teacher & advisor Mr H.P. Bremmer, she was one of the first admirers and collectors of Vincent Van Gogh. While other rich women spent a weekend in Paris buying clothes, Hélène, Anton and Bremmer would come back with a stack of Van Gogh paintings.
It was Hélène’s dream to share their impressive and growing art collection – including almost 90 paintings and 180 drawings by Van Gogh – with the general public. Plans for a Kröller-Müller Museum were born. At first to be designed by H.P. Berlage, who started drawing a beautiful, grand building.
All went well until the 1929 crisis hit the Kröller-Müller company very hard. Money ran out and government had to cough up the finances for a temporary (and less grand) museum by architect Henri Van der Velde.
It turned out to be the permanent one, the one we still visit today.
More about Hélène
Hélène died in 1939, 70 years old.
If you want to get to know her better, listen her biographer Eva Rovers in the revealing documentary ‘Helene, a woman between love and art‘ https://vimeo.com/9667836
Jachthuis Sint Hubertus, Nationaal Park Hoge Veluwe, Ingang Hoenderloo Houtkampweg 13, Hoenderloo Guided tours only: www.hogeveluwe.nl/nl/ontdek-het-park/kunst-en-architectuur/jachthuis-sint-hubertus