Johan Thorn Prikker (1868-1932) is considered one of Holland's most significant contemporary Art-Nouveau proponents. His two-dimensional works include mosaics, (mural) paintings and stained glass. Thorn Prikker combined motives from Christian art with literary themes (Verhaeren and Baudelaire, amongst others): his style is comparable to Jan Toorop's.
Born June 5 1868 in Den Haag, the Netherlands, Thorn Prikker grew up in the time of Dutch cultural revival that lasted from 1880 till roughly 1900. At that time the ruling school in Den Haag was naturalism, with this background he joined the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten (Academy for Visual Arts) in Den Haag in 1883. His time at the academy was short: Thorn Prikker was a rebellious youth and in 1887 he was expelled from the academy. This set foot for his growing aversion against the art scene of Den Haag and would eventually make him move to Germany.
After Thorn Prikker was expelled he made long trips to Limburg, Germany and Belgium. During these trips he painted sceneries that seem related to the Barbizon School.
In 1888 French writer Stanislas de Guaita had found the mystical order of "les Rose-Croix" (also known as “les XX”). Under Péladan’s command "Les Rose-Croix" had become greatly popular in a short time, attracting numerous young artists from all around Europe. Around 1890 Péladan came to Den Haag to give lectures about 'Le mystère, l'art et l'amour' (”mystery, art, and love”). Impressed by Péladan's speeches, Thorn Prikker and his friend Jan Toorop joined the order. While Thorn Prikker had passed through phases of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism earlier in his career, under the influence of "les Rose-Croix" he changed to an elaborate linear style with which he became a leading exponent of Symbolism and Art Nouveau, as in his most famous painting: "The Bride" (Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands, 1893.)
From 1893 Thorn Prikker concentrated on the design of mosaics, murals, and stained glass, mainly for churches. In 1904 he moved out of Den Haag in order to become a teacher at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Krefeld, Germany. In this time he developed the Symbolism-coined Jugendstil he became famous for.
In 1913 Thorn Prikker made a study trip with Gottfried Heinersdorff to France. After this trip he returned to Essen where he became a teacher at the local Academy of Arts, a job he continued in München (1920-1923), Düsseldorf (1923-1926) and Cologne (1926-1932.) After he moved to Cologne he made some of his most famous works, including the mosaics “Day” and “Night” in Düsseldorf (1926), a huge mural painting for Philips in Eindhoven, the Netherlands (1926), a cycle of windows in the Romanesque church of St. George in Cologne (1930), and two mural paintings for the city halls of Den Haag and Amsterdam, the Netherlands (1931).
Johan Thorn Prikker died on March 5 1932 in Cologne, Germany at the age of 64.
His works are displayed at various museums, including: Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo (NL), Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Missouri (U.S), Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (NL), Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in Den Haag (NL), Deutsches Glasmalerei Museum (”German Stained Glass Museum”) in Linnich (DE), Deutsches Plakat Museum in Essen (DE), and the Hohenhof Museum in Hagen (DE).