PhotoLexicon, Volume 20, nr. 35 (August 2003) (en)

Johannes Frederik Hulk Sr.

Ingeborg Th. Leijerzapf


Johannes Frederik Hulk Sr. received an education in painting and drawing. He worked as a painter, a dealer in painting and drawing supplies, and as a photographer. As a photographer, he is likely to have been an autodidact. He painted and drew images of cities and villages and took photographic portraits for cartes-de-visite as well as a number of topographic shots in Amsterdam.




Johannes Frederik Hulk was born on 9 January in Amsterdam, as the thirteenth and last child of Hendrik Hulk, merchant, and Mary Burroughs, who was of British origin.

Circa 1842

Hulk is expected to work in his father’s trading office to learn the mercantile profession, but he yearns to be a painter like his older brother, Abraham Hulk (born in London in 1813), who was a maritime painter. Hulk moves in with his brother, who is willing to teach him painting on the one condition that he does not become a maritime painter. In addition to studying with his brother, Hulk takes lessons with Kasper Karsen, a painter of landscapes and cityscapes (and later a photographer). He also studies at the RABK (Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, ‘National Academy of Fine Arts’) in Amsterdam.


Hulk marries Hermine Müller (1831-1866), a German woman. This marriage will result in six children, of which only two will survive.


A daughter, Betsy, is born (death 1903).


Hulk is registered in the Algemeen Adresboek (‘General Addressbook’) of Amsterdam as a storeowner of ‘schilder- en teekenbehoeften’ (‘painting and drawing supplies’) at Rokin E 167 (later renumbered as Rokin 16). The store is called ‘De Rembrandt’ (‘The Rembrandt’). They also sell office supplies. On 17 November, Hulk’s son Johannes Frederik (John) is born (death 1913).


In the Amsterdam address book, Hulk’s company is registered as a ‘warehouse in painting, drawing and office supplies, etui and wallet manufacturer’.


Hulk creates space for a photography studio in the building at Rokin E 167. He enters a business partnership with Pieter Vlaanderen (born in 1840), who is eleven years his junior. On 1 May, Hulk opens Atelier Hulk & Vlaanderen.


Atelier Hulk & Vlaanderen takes part in the Tentoonstelling van Photographie, Photolithographie, enz. (‘Exhibition of Photography, Photolithography, etc.’) at the Paleis van Volksvlijt (‘Palace of Industry’) in Amsterdam. The entry consists of portraits without retouching, retouched portraits, and carte-de-visite portraits. At the end of July, the company opens a studio at Gelderschekade Wijk 2, No. 44 in Rotterdam under the name J.F. Hulk & Co. Just as in Amsterdam, this studio makes portraits and ‘copies’ of famous figures.


Hermine Hulk-Müller dies while giving birth. Hulk marries again several years later, to his housekeeper, Margaretha Bakker.


Pieter Vlaanderen leaves Amsterdam and set up his own studio in Alkmaar, which also bears the name of ‘De Rembrandt’.


Hulk sells his building on the Rokin in Amsterdam.


Together with his son John, Hulk is a co-founder of the Amsterdam sailing association, ‘Het IJ’.


Hulk resides at various locations: in Sloten (1885), in Amsterdam (1887-1901), Vreeland (1901-’04), Abcoude (1904-’07), and Haarlem (1907-’11).


Johannes Frederik Hulk dies in Haarlem on 12 June. Subsequently, a brief description of his life appears in the 15 June edition of Het Nieuws van de Dag (‘The News of the Day’), in which Hulk’s qualities are described as follows: ‘Only several years ago, one was regularly able to view his work in ‘Arti’ [an Amsterdam art society], cityscapes that bore the trademark of an earlier age.’ The newspaper recalled his small cityscapes and viewed him as a representative of an older painting tradition. The fact that he was a photographer was apparently forgotten.


Secondary bibliography

(publicaties over de fotograaf en/of zijn werk)

Anoniem, Laatste berichten. J.F. Hulk †, in Het Nieuws van den Dag 15 juni 1911, 5e blad, p. 17.

C.C.G. Quarles van Ufford, Amsterdam voor ‘t eerst gefotografeerd. 80 Stadsgezichten uit de jaren 1855-1970, Amsterdam (De Bussy) 1968, p. 19, 114-115, 140.

P.A. Scheen, Lexicon Nederlandse beeldende kunstenaars 1750-1950. dl. I, Den Haag (Scheen) 1970, p. 526-527.

Ingeborg Th. Leijerzapf, Fotografie in Nederland 1839-1920, Den Haag (Staatsuitgeverij) 1978, p. 97.

Rob van der Spek en Barbara Cremers, Atelier De Rembrandt te Alkmaar, in Photohistorisch Tijdschrift 7 (1984) 2, p. 12-14.

Jan Coppens, Laurent Roosens en Karel van Deuren, “…door de enkele werking van het licht…”. Introductie en integratie van de fotografie in België en Nederland, 1839-1869, Antwerpen (Gemeentekrediet) 1989, p. 114.

Ankie Boomstra, De schilders Hulk. Een kunstenaarsfamilie in de 19de eeuw, Utrecht (Linea Recta) 1994.


1865 (g) Amsterdam, Paleis van Volksvlijt, Tentoonstelling van Photographie, Photolithographie, enz.

1953 (g) Leiden, Prentenkabinet van de Rijksuniversiteit, Een Eeuw Fotografie.


Amsterdam, Gemeentearchief Amsterdam.

Den Haag, A.J.F. Gogelein.

Leiden, Studie en Documentatie Centrum voor Fotografie, Prentenkabinet Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden.

Utrecht, Steven Wachlin.


Amsterdam, Gemeentearchief Amsterdam.

Leiden, Prentenkabinet Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden.