George Hendrik Breitner (12 September 1857 – 5 June 1923) was a Dutch painter and photographer. An important figure in Amsterdam Impressionism, he is noted especially for his paintings of street scenes and harbors in a realistic style: wooden foundation piles by the harbor, demolition work and construction sites in the old center, horse trams on the Dam, or canals in the rain. Breitner saw himself as “le peintre du peuple”, the people’s painter, and preferred to work with working-class models: laborers, servant girls and people from the lower class districts.
By 1890, cameras were affordable, and Breitner became very interested in this particular instrument that could help provide reference materials for his paintings. The discovery in 1996 of a large collection of photographic prints and negatives made it clear that Breitner was a talented photographer of street photography. He took various pictures of the same subject, from different perspectives or in different weather conditions. On other occasions, Breitner used photography for general reference, to capture an atmosphere, a light effect or the weather in the city at a particular moment.
Take a look at these 28 stunning vintage black-and-white photographs of the streets and people of Amsterdam from the 1890s to 1910s taken by Breitner: