Jakob Smits was a Belgian artist born in Rotterdam in 1856 and died in Achterbos Mol in 1928. He was a painter, draftsman and etcher. Education at the Academy in Rotterdam. Worked in his father's decoration company for a while. Further training at the Academy in Brussels, directed by J. Stallaert (1874-1875). Returned to the Netherlands and studied from 1870 to 1880 at the Munich Academy. Married in 1882 with his niece, Antje Doetje Kramer, and settled in Amsterdam. Received important assignments, including the decoration of the vestibule of the old Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen. Became director at the industrial and decorative school in Haarlem. He painted in Drenthe and Dutch Limburg, had contacts with, among others, A. Mauve and A. Neuhuys (Haagse School). Married to Malvina De Deyn in 1889 and came to the unknown and remote Achterbos, where he would stay until his death. Malvina died in 1899 and in 1901 he married Josine Van Couteren. Acquired Belgian nationality in 1902. Painted the life of the farmers in Achterbos, the landscape, Biblical scenes in a Kempian setting, portraits. In his works, he penetrated the essence of the poor farming population and their deeply rooted faith. Until 1900 he worked mainly with watercolor, crayons and charcoal. Initially, the influence of the Hague painters was still noticeable. Numerous biblical and profane representations were depicted against a golden background. In many works, including portraits of Malvina, a preference for clair-obscur effects was noticed. From 1900 he mainly worked with oil paint. Large bright canvases were created after the First World War. He created a world of his own in those works, with the essence of that inner, shaping light. He considered this a matter and attempted to give it a maximum intensity through thick, grainy paint masses, thus achieving vibrating light effects. The subjects were reduced to their most basic forms and often approached the abstract. Confessed in his works a primitive mysticism and some of them can be regarded as a synthesis of the Kempen. He started etching intensively when he was around fifty. His simple etching technique fits perfectly with simple subjects such as landscapes and village scenes with a few figures and interiors. Ninety etchings were created in a few years. Was a member of Kunst van Heden from 1905. Jakob Smits Museum in Mol. Work among others in the Museums in Antwerp, Brussels, Ixelles, Liege, Ghent, Bruges, Kortrijk. Listed in BAS I and Two centuries of signatures by Belgian artists. (PIRON)
After his death, etching plates that have not been destroyed are still printed and marked with his name stamp or signed by widow Josine Van Cauteren.