Olle Kapoen, presumably by Coen van Hunnik (Amsterdamsch Dagblad, 30 November 1945)

Coen van Hunnik, also known as "J.H. van Hunnik", was a Dutch artist and painter. He is best-known for his nostalgic drawings and watercolors of typical Dutch landscapes and sceneries, which are available on countless forms of merchandising. He has also illustrated children's books, and developed the newspaper comic strip 'Olle Kapoen' (1945-1955) with Phiny Dick for the Toonder Studio's.

Johannes Coenraad van Hunnik was born in Rotterdam in 1925 as the fifth child in a family of nine children. The family struggled through the crisis years of the 1930s, and endured the bombings of Rotterdam by the Germans in May 1940. Coen was sent to the small village Vledder in the East of The Netherlands for forced labour, and settled in Amsterdam after the Liberation. He found employment with the Toonder Studios, where he worked with Marten Toonder's wife Phiny Dick on the newspaper comic about the gnome 'Olle Kapoen'. The strip made its debut on 22 October 1945 in newspapers like De Kroniek, De Patriot and Amsterdamsch Dagblad. Van Hunnik drew at least the first story, 'Olle Kapoen op avontuur', and was eventually replaced by Richard Klokkers. By then it was published in newspaper Algemeen Handelsblad. Van Hunnik left the Toonder Studio's in June 1953 together with Ben van Voorn. They got a job offer from Eelco ten Harmsen van der Beek, the creator of the 'Flipje' advertising strips and the illustrator of the British 'Noddy' books. Their work as assistants lasted only a couple of weeks, because their employer passed away in July of that same year.

Van Hunnik then started working for Mulder & Zoon, and illustrated several children's and fairy tales books for this publisher. These included the books 'Mijn dierenboek', 'Pret en spel', 'Vrolijke kinderen', 'Het avontuur van konijntje Snuf', 'Dieren op de boerderij' and 'Drie kleine eendjes en de libelle'. He also illustrated the 'Mark en Mieke' series of children's books by Els Stam.

Van Hunnik's watercolor drawings of Dutch landscapes and sceneries continue to be on sale through tourist shops to this day. They appear on prints, postcards, tiles, plates, bowls, cups and other items. The artist published his autobiography, 'Toen wij uit Rotterdam vertrokken', in 2013. He passed away on 26 July 2016.

Coen van Hunnik

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