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Biography Sierk Schröder

Sierk Schröder (1903-2002)

Biography in brief

Sierk Schröder: You have to remain true and faithful to yourself, in the cage of your own personality you must try hard to achieve the top. I never deviated an inch from what I felt I had to do

During his long artist's career Sierk Schröder produced a large and comprehensive oeuvre. Without doubt he was the most important and requested Dutch portrait painter of the twentieth century. In commission he painted the portraits of many prominent figures from the different social sectors of Dutch society and beyond. He also painted many family portraits, including children's and babies' portraits.

Impressive is his free work in which the human figure dominates, such as nudes, semi-nudes (often in interior). But he also made many nature studies, landscapes, free portraits and self-portraits. His techniques are highly varied. Besides oil paintings he made watercolours, pastels, including the masterful pastels on raw canvas from his later years (a technique he discovered by accident), pencil and charcoal drawings.

For Sierk Schröder there was a constant tension between accepting portrait commissions, which he was overwhelmed with, and making free work. Finding a balance between the two, was often oppressive.

Contrary to all art trends in particular arising after the second world war, Sierk Schröder remained faithful to the tradition which he tried to deepen and enrich. Endlessly, in his continued striving after the highest quality and his shifting and combining traditional limits to the present, he continued to make drawings, studies and sketches. These exercises, the red thread through his artist's career, enabled him to establish an impressive and very personal body of work.

Increasingly Sierk Schröder is considered as the painter, draughtsman, who formed a bridge between tradition and the contemporary revaluation of figurative painting, including portrait art. This partly explains the large and ever-growing interest in his work.

From 1960 to 1968 Sierk Schröder was Professor in the Art of Free Painting at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (National Academy of Visual Arts) in Amsterdam. In 1964 he was appointed Officier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau (Officer in the Order of Orange Nassau) and in 2000 Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw (Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion).

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For exhibitions (held from 1932): click here