Chris Engels

Date of Birth1907
Born inRotterdam, The Netherlands
Painter / Composer / Poet
  • Bio

    Chris Engels (1907, Rotterdam, the Netherlands - † 1980, Curaçao)

    Chris J.H. Engels was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 1907. In 1936 he left what he found to be a troubling political situation in Europe, in order to become a catholic medical doctor in Curaçao. When his wife Barbara Schrage died during giving birth, Engels turned to painting with the impetus of capturing her likeness. Besides painting, Engels continued his work as a poet and composer.

    However, he is perhaps best known for being a cultural pioneer. In 1940 he started the literary magazine ‘De Stoep’ (The Doorstep), the only Dutch magazine that could publish freely during World War II.


  • Engels also contributed to the magazine under the pseudonym of Luc Tournier. In 1947, Engels co-founded 'The Curaçao Museum' together with his father-in-law Rudolf Frederik Willem "Dodo" Boskaljon.

    As president of the Curaçao Kunstkring (Curaçao Art Circle) he and his father-in-law brought world-renowned musicians to the Antilles, including Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Lily Kraus, Isaac Stern, Louis Armstrong and Marian Anderson. Throughout the years, Engels developed friendships with artists and patrons from Europe and the Americas including Osip Zadkine, Gerrit Rietveld, Corneille, Dolf Henkes, Charles Eyck and Willem Sandberg.

    Thanks to these friendships, Engels could bring various world-renowned art pieces as well as artists to Curaçao. For the exhibition 'The Pioneers' in the Curaçao Museum, 50 internationally renowned art pieces were flown to Curaçao. There even was a ‘Van Gogh’ exhibition in the Curaçao Museum.


  • Engels' second wife Lucila Boskaljon, a native of Curaçao, also became a well-known artist. The couple has held exhibitions both individually and together at various galleries and museums around the world, including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The couple had their residence at 'Stroomzigt', an 18th century mansion situated in Otrobanda which was renovated by architect Ben Smit. Here they built up a collection of art and books. 'Stroomzigt' served as a cultural meeting place for Curaçao's talented.

    Engels passed away on December 20, 1980 after he was hit by a motorist.

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