12th July – 3rd November 2024

Paul Tétar van Elven (1823-1896) made his will in 1887. If he were to outlive his much younger second wife, Helena, then he wanted to bequeath his capital to ensure his own legacy. His house on the Koornmarkt number 67 in Delft was to become a museum, displaying his paintings and collections.

In addition, a Paul Tétar van Elven fund was to be established. Every four years, a competition was to be organised for aspiring young artists in the historical genre. The best painter of a classical subject would win a four-year scholarship to study abroad; first two years in Belgium and France, followed by two years in Italy. The fund was to be managed by Arti et Amicitiae, an Art Society in Amsterdam, but the prize-winning works would become the property of the museum in Delft.

Paul did not outlive his wife, but she respected his wishes and wrote them into her own will. When Helena Pitlo-van Duuren died in 1925, both the museum and the fund were set up. Between 1934 and 1988 the competition was organised twelve times. The winning painting from 1948 is shown here: “The Lost Son” by Jan Albert Engelchor (1920-1976). After 1970 the themes for the competition were made more up-to-date, rather than always being a classical subject. Eroticism was even the theme in 1982!

In the exhibition PRIX DE PAUL, all of the prize-winning paintings are being shown together for the very first time, alongside historical paintings by Paul Tétar van Elven himself from the period 1845-1870. Although he worked in other genres throughout his life, it seems that his heart ultimately lay in historical subject matter. The PRIX DE PAUL was a noble effort to breathe new life into the genre.