I am grateful and still full of wonder that on mid-April 1922 I came into the world as the first son to my parents and as the long prayed for fulfillment of their great love. My father was then 43 years old and a poor and struggling artist with a great vision and persistent courage. His integrity as an artist lifted him and us above the mediocrity, sham and ugliness of the world around us. His vision was religious, pure and intense. My father was and to my mind is one of the great, if as yet not fully recognized, religious artist of our century.
It was shortly after my birth that my father was more or less accidentally, given the opportunity to design a stained glass window for a convent near Thurnhout, in the Flemish part of Belgium and which was to start him on a long creative period in, and part of, what was to be the renaissance of stained glass in Europe.
If I have mentioned my father here and lingered on for a while on his work before speaking of my mother and our home it is not, in any way, because of a filial preference; for, whereas early personal remembrance of an intimate character are bound to be more closely associated with my mother, I seem to have felt the impact of my father’s creativity and personality hover over us all, in his restrained, tactful way. His youthful enthusiasm, his love of light and color, his gentleness and old Spanish chivalry pervade all my childhood memories, where, in a childlike and wonderful way reality and facts melt away into dreams.
The only thing about my early childhood I would dare claim to remember, would be a vague, but persistent, “illumination” of harmony and happiness and fulfillment. All other memories of those days I must have reconstructed in my imagination from stories told to me throughout my youth by my moher or my father or told by them, many years later, to my young bride when she came to live amoung her “new people”. And so I have been told, and believe, that as a little boy I was very quiet and reserved, but with a great affection and with a great need of love, always active, full of enterprise and with a very lively imagination.
I seem to have been very careful and precise in my movements, and well behaved but besides this possessed by irresistible and extremely violent choleric fits. I also understand, and this I believe to remember, that all my mother would do was to pick me up with loving and patient understanding and wash my forehead and wrists with cold water, but further than that she would ignore the whole affair.
A few years after my birth my mother fell ill and after having undergone several different medical and dietic treatments, without the expected results, she was sent to Switzerland for a period of one year.
My father was making at this time a surprising success as an artist and lived practically isolated in his huge studio. Since it would have been very difficult for him, then, to take full care of me I was sent to a boarding place at one of the Belgian Coastline resorts. All I can recall of this is that a few days after my arrival there, I started a high fever. After many exhausting days of my fighting this fever, the doctors, not understanding what the causes might be and failing to improve my condition in any way, wired to my father who was at my mother’s bedside in Switzerland, to hurry back since there was no hope of saving his little son’s life.
A few hours after my father arrived, the fever dropped as suddenly as it had come. I started feeling much better. I vaguely remember my father guiding my first weak steps through the sunny room overlooking the thundering north sea. My father took me with him and never left me behind anywhere.
One of my mother’s aunts, who also happened to be my god-mother, came to live with us to take care of my father’s and my own wellbeing until my mother came back to us again. This was a very quiet interlude. My father was working day and night on a series of projects for eventual execution in stained glass. They are among his most excellent works and his later reputation as an artist was largely built up on the exhibition he had of them at the Christian Art Show in 1927.
These cartoons were later reproduced in color and published in a limited luxury edition at the occasion of a celebration of my father’s fiftieth anniversary. The best writers, poets, art critics and others of the Flemish cultural world collaborated in this homage to him.
Family photos of Eugene Yoors, Magda Yoors and young Jan with his little sister Bixie
The house Jan grew up in Antwerp, Belgium, Jans bed at the Yoors house in Belgium and marionettes from the Yoors house.
Magda, Jan and Bixie and Jan in his boy scout uniform with Bixie
Artistic Influences: Goethe’s Color wheel, DaVinci, Rackham’s Alice in Wonderland & Pieter Bruegel