Vecjauži birthplace




Purvītis at work.

A painter at work on the farm Vecjauži in Zaube.

In the hilly, deserted rural area that is still characterised by the 'white roads', 100 km to the north east of Riga, is the house in which Wilhelms Purvītis was born in 1872.

Purvītis gained European recognition for the Latvian tradition of landscape painting, and is considered the creator of modern Latvian scenic painting, portraying the nature of the country. His relationship to the European traditions of impressionism, luminism, and pointillism made him into an international figure, a European 'avant la lettre'.

Not only because of Wilhelms Purvītis's distinction as an artist, but also for his enthusiasm and unifying symbolism he became the Director of the Riga City School of Art (later Latvian Academy of Arts) in 1913 and Director of the State Museum of Arts in 1919. He is a pre-eminent figure in the artistic memory of Latvia and, in terms of what he means for Latvian identity, is comparable with Rembrandt or Van Gogh in the Netherlands. He died in Germany in 1945.

Evening at the estate Vecjauži


Vecjauži in wintertime

In 1995, just after the liberation of Latvia, when I was organising management training for Latvian museum directors, one of the trainees came to me. As well as being a museum director she was also an inspector of monuments and in her district was the birthplace of the famous Latvian painter. It was in a deplorable state and she wanted to save it.

We wrote a plan for its conservation, but at that time it proved impossible to find the necessary sponsors. However the condition of the building made the situation urgent. To make a long story short, on 7 May 1998 I signed a contract that made me the owner of a ouse and ancillary buildings in very bad condition, together with 80 hectares of land in the beautiful wilderness of the municipality of Taurupe and near the village of Zaube.

Raising the European flag on the
1st of May 2004, when Latvia became
a member of the European Union.

In 1999, barely recovered from realising the enormity of my action, I started the restoration of the main building. A team of Latvians, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, and myself as a Dutch person, worked for four months. In that long summer a miracle happened. The house got a new roof with shingles, running water, electricity, a European flush toilet and a bath. It was painted and restored in traditional style.

Slowly a plan for the future took shape.




Vecjauži foundation

Vecjauži birthplace

Vilhelms Purvītis 



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