Waiting for the catch signed 'Blommers' (lower left) oil on panel 20.5 x 30 cm. (8 x 11 3/4 in.)
Bernardus Johannes Blommers was born in The Hague in 1845. His father, Pieter Blommers, owned a printing business and since he had always intended that his son would succeed him there, he trained him as a lithographer. However, Blommers was to develop an interest in painting, which led him to take lessons from Christoffel Bisschop (1828-1904) and at the Haags Academie. There he met Willem Maris (1844-1910) with whom he undertook a journey along the Rhine in 1865. It was around this time that Blommers met the painter Jozef Israels (1824-1911) on the beach at Scheveningen, forming a friendship which lasted all their lives and which was to influence Blommers artistic development greatly.
Like Israels, the leading exponent of the Hague School of painters who sought to represent rural landscapes and the simple, often poignant lives of peasants, Blommers was equally influenced to paint interiors, dune landscapes, and seascapes in which the figures play a leading role, illustrating the life of peasants and the fishing community.
Waiting for the Catch is one such evocation of the genre, depicting a group of fisherwomen who wait patiently for the return of the fleet, most probably on the beach at Scheveningen. In this work Blommers appears to have represented four generations of one family; an elderly woman sits on the sand towards the centre of the group, wearing the big, flat straw hat that the fishwives wore up until the end of the century, while a young mother sits on a piece of driftwood with her young son leaning wearily against her knee. Dominating the centre of the painting stands a middle-aged woman, her robust arm resting on her hip, evoking her physical strength as well as her emotional resilience. The spectators eye is immediately drawn to this central figure presiding over the group as it serves to dissect the horizontal plane of the work. In the grey, morning light the mood of Waiting for the Catch is one of quiet fortitude and Blommers has used a muted palette, redolent of much of the work of The Hague School.
In his own lifetime Blommers was regarded as one of the great figures of The Hague School; he was particularly popular in England and Scotland and later among American and Canadian collectors. By 1880 this success had given him the financial means to build a house in The Hague where he was to live for the rest of his life.