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1830 – 1839 Occupied city

In 1830 Théodore temporarily returned to his parents in his native city of Maastricht then, in 1832, took up residence in Brussels, the capital of the new country of Belgium. At that time, Belgium was a rich nation with, by the standards of the day, a progressive constitution. For him, it was also where the best career opportunities were to be found.

Meanwhile, Maastricht was an occupied city, like an island in the middle of Belgium. Lieutenant-General Dibbets ruled with an iron fist from the Generaalshuis on Vrijthof square and the Gouvernement on Bouillonstraat (which was built by Mathias Soiron in 1777 in the classical style). (Until well into the 20th century, Dibbets was reviled among the local population as the devil incarnate, with stories about how he would hand out beatings to unruly youths with his stick.) When Théodore left, so too did some of the city’s local intelligentsia, among them the mainly French-speaking poets André Van Hasselt and Théodore Weustenraad (the latter still remembered for, among others, his French-language homage to the locomotive and his long joke poem in Maastricht dialect ‘De persessie van Sjerpenheuvel’, [The Procession at Scherpenheuvel]).

Since Théodore’s departure in1826, the Teekenschool has been run by the aforementioned city architect Hermans - probably in response to the criticism levelled by Blonden against its bias towards the ‘fine arts’ in the quote above.

From the start of the Belgian Revolution in Brussels in July 1830 until 1839, it was all the school could do to survive.

In: J.Blonden, P. 9:

‘Prize ceremony in 1830:

1st class. Example, Head of Hebe from plaster, prize: silv. Royal medal to Jan Beckers. The medal for an architectural line drawing was not presented.

Other prize winners: Jan Jageneau, Tos. Batta, Jan Crolaer, Jan Schoens and Jos. Vos.

Soon after these prizes were awarded, the city entered a very challenging period. We hear no mention of the school for a while, other than the news that, in 1832, drawing tutor Hermans was given permission to establish a special painting school in his home, but not a drawing school, and that, in 1835, another prize ceremony took place, at which the Royal medal not awarded in 1830 was presented; however, with the approval of the Governor of Limburg, it went to a different recipient.

Prize ceremony in Oct. 1835:

1st class. Example, Head of Homer from plaster, prize: silv. Royal medal to J. Ant. Niesten. The other prize winners were: Karel Arnould, Jules Leiter, Karel Jan Wilkens, Hub. Crets and Karel Ketelaar.

In 1836, the drawing school was restored to the ‘militia room’ in the former Augustinian monastery, having been moved from there to the town hall in 1830.‘

We can identify one individual among the prize winners: Jules Leiter

The name Jules Leiter was linked to the Maastricht-based family of printers, Nypels. From 1837 onwards, as a result of ties between the two families, the company was named Leiter-Nypels. This ‘city printing house’, which was founded and most recently based on Minckelerstraat, was dissolved in 1993.1 

Jules (born on 8 October 1820) was 15 years old when he received his prize. He may then have gone on to work in the city printing house. If so, this would also be in line with the aims of the Teekenschool. 

Another famous descendant of this Maastricht family was Charles Nypels (1895-1952), who completed part of his education at the Stadsteekeninstituut (city drawing institute) under Robert Graafland. He made his name as a typographer, publisher, printer, and author.

Among other things, he was involved in the anonymous publication, around 1930, of the aforementioned scabrous text ‘Persessie vaan Sjerpenheuvel’, with illustrations signed ‘L.S.’. These subsequently turned out to be the work of Charles Eyck who (albeit too late!) withdrew from the project for fear of losing his ecclesiastical commissions. See also: Limburg School.

  1. Charles Nypels’ great-great-grandfather, Théodore Nypels (1758-1810) was a printer and bookseller and, in 1806, took over what was left of the company Roux et Dufour. Through his mother Marie Adelaïde van Gulpen (1725-1817),Théodore was a grandson of Jan Tilman van Gulpen. Since 1717, Jan Tilman had a printing business on Muntstraat in Maastricht. At the start of the nineteenth century, the firm of Nypels acquired the official title ‘stadsdrukkerij’ (city printing house). In 1837 the name of the printing firm was changed to ‘Leiter-Nypels,’ since the owner at the time, Anne Pétronille Nypels (1789-1865), Théodore's daughter, had married Mathias Leiter (1792-1849). His father, Edouard, (1854-1933) was also an owner and director of Leiter-Nypels. The firm relocated to Vrijthof in 1895.
Maastricht Institute of Arts