an orchid amongst onions. Mocking Louis Couperus

an orchid amongst onions. Mocking Louis Couperus

25 May - 20 October 2019


Couperus has been in the spotlight all his life. From his first public appearance and his debut as a writer onwards, newspapers and magazines targeted his person and his work. He was too elegantly dressed - Couperus was that rare thing, a Dutch dandy - and his books were considered decadent, if not outright dangerous (for the young). At the same time, one critic called him 'l'enfant chéri des dames'. 

The current exhibition in the Louis Couperus Museum is inspired by the latest publication by Couperus connoisseur H.T.M. van Vliet: Een orchidee tussen de aardappels. Louis Couperus bespot in woord en beeld. It focusses on all the caricatures, mockeries, parodies on the man and his work, in the arts as well as in writing. The result is an astonishing catalogue of texts and images which in our day and age, really seems rather shocking. 

On show

The exhibition is centred around four themes: his looks, his character, parodies and Couperus' performances. The jokes about Couperus' appearance concentrate mostly on his femininety and the fact that he was always immaculately dressed. In consequence, his character was supposed to be arrogant and supercilious. Between 1900 and 1915 Couperus lived in France and Italy, but during the First World War, he came back to Holland and started reciting from his own work, all around the country and in the Dutch East Indies. These lectures, which sometimes took place in very precious settings, gave rise to a true avalanche of parodies on the man and his work.

The exhibition was made possible by contributions from the Stichting Gillis Hondius Foundation and the Van Ommeren-de Voogt Foundation.




Nibs, portrait of Louis Couperus in John'o Londons Weekly, 16 July 1921

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