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We are interested in your responses and shall, as far as possible, answer your questions with the exception of appraisals. We are also looking for Sterkenburg-paintings which are not included in the book ’Bound to the sea’. Please send us via email a digital photo, preferably taken outside (without flashlight), and a specification of the dimensions of the canvas/panel without the frame. And if possible, please also indicate the year that the artist made your painting or when you acquired it. You can reach us by email by clicking on the email envelope  

Newspaper clippings

The Peter J. Sterkenburg Maritime Paintings Foundation aims to bring the work of the Frisian artist to the attention of a large audience. Much worth knowing about the painter can be found in the biography ’Bound to the Sea’ and on this website. What is still missing is mainly data about the start of his career. Jan Wietze Ludema, responsible for the Media within the board, is therefore constantly looking for newspaper clippings and reviews related to Sterkenburg's work. You can find what is known to date on our website, under ’News’. Ludema is grateful to everyone who can help fill in missing data. You can reach Jan Wietze Ludema by email by clicking on the email envelope  

Peter J. Sterkenburg KLP® plastic benc.

On 28 September 2022, volunteers placed a garden bench along the bicycle path in Zurich, Friesland, that bears the name of Frisian maritime painter Peter J. Sterkenburg (1955-2000), The bench is dedicated to the artist and is located diagonally opposite his former home. It was a gift to the residents of the village of Zurich from Lankhorst Engineered Products in Sneek. The initiative came from the Peter J. Sterkenburg Maritime Paintings Foundation. The beautiful weather ensured that the bench was quickly used.

Photo 1/2/3 Installation of the bench.

Photo 4 From left to right foundation board members Tineke Fahner, Jan Wietze Ludema and Ton van der Werf. The white former house of Peter Sterkenburg stands in the background
Photo 5/6/7 The first users. Photo 9 Inscription. 

Municipality Súdwest-Fryslân names cycle path Zurich after artist Peter J. Sterkenburg

ZURICH – The naming committee of the municipality Súdwest-Fryslân proposed to the College of Mayor and Aldermen to name the bicycle path at the end of the Gooyumerweg in Zurich, the Peter J. Sterkenburg bicycle path, as a tribute to an exceptional artist. The College agreed to this.
Village Committee Dorpsbelang Zurich submitted the request on behalf of the Peter J. Sterkenburg Maritime Paintings Foundation. “It is a great opportunity to give this exceptional artist and the village even more attention.” The cycle path starts opposite the former home of Mr. Sterkenburg on the Caspar de Roblesdijk. Dorpsbelang presented the naming proposal to the villagers. The name change received a lot of support from the “Surchers”.

About Peter J. Sterkenburg
The maritime painter was born in Harlingen in 1955 as the son of a sailor. Sterkenburg was fascinated by seagoing ships from an early age. His love for the sea and these ships led him to later specialize in painting both old and new ships in his own style. In the early years of his career he focused on serial work, but from 1990 his big breakthrough in the Far East came after an exhibition of Dutch artists in Hong Kong.
After that, Peter J. Sterkenburg only made paintings on commission, such as the immortalization of the fleet of Smit Internationale in Singapore. Source: Groot Sneek Text: Ynte Dragt

In February 2022 I was approached by Sanne Hooiveld who was in possession of a very early “Sterkenburg” with a depiction of chickens. Chicken paintings were easy to sell and to keep his head above water, Peter Sterkenburg made many at the beginning of his career. However, most were not signed because the artist did not consider them good enough.

This painting is therefore an exception, because the graceful signature of the artist is visible in the lower left corner. When Sanne told me that she would like to sell the painting, I was immediately interested because these " chickerings" ultimately formed the basis of Sterkenburg's later success.

The painting depicts a small farm house with chickens in the foreground. Unfortunately I had to disappoint Sanne about the value, because Sterkenburg's oldest paintings represent a genre that is not very popular, unlike his later works. We came to an agreement on the price and on February 19 she showed up at our door with the painting.

She noticed my disappointment because the frame was missing which was something that I had overlooked but she could also see that I was excited given the emotional value this painting has for me. To my delight, I later received the following information from Sanne.

She had bought the painting from the grandson of a Mr. Agema who had copied the “Sterkenburg” and had probably put the original frame around his own painting. That last painting was still in Sanne's attic and she promised that she would take a photo and pass on the measurements.

When she called me afterwards, to my pleasant surprise it turned out that the frame had exactly the dimensions of Peter Sterkenburg's chicken painting. I told Sanne how special it was that someone had copied the painting and that Mr Agema had probably used Peter's original frame. And because I wanted the frame, Sanne sold it to me for a friendly price including Mr Agema's painting.

She was kind enough to bring me the “Agema” as well and in March I was able 
to put the original frame around my “Sterkenburg” again. In fact it is quite special that even Sterkenburg's early works have been an inspiration for other painters and although Mr Agema really did his best, the difference is clearly visible, even though Sterkenburg's work was still in its infancy at the time. Now the “chickering” hangs on our wall again in its original frame. Both paintings can be seen below. 

However, because of the copyright on Sterkenburg's paintings, which is notarized by the Peter J. Sterkenburg Maritime Paintings foundation, I had other choice but to make the “Agema” disappear.

A special thanks to Sanne Hooiveld who saved an early “Sterkenburg” and made this special story possible.

Jan Wietze Ludema

On the left the painting by Agema, on the right the painting by Peter Sterkenburg.                     The original painting with the frame

An article published by The Russian Geographical Society on their website about a sunken tjalk-boat in the Gulf of Finland uses an image of a painting by Peter Sterkenburg. However, it is likely that the sunken ship was a Baltic tjalk, a type of ship that was heavier, higher and more seaworthy than the Frisian type. These ships were built in Groningen and had a maximum length of 25 meters. Click here to read the full article

Wieringermeerbode  20-07-2004 ‘Bound to the sea’ In the Westfries Museum

Hoorn - The artist Peter Sterkenburg is without doubt one of the most important maritime painters of the twentieth century. He was ‘Bound to the sea’,
which is also the title of the exhibition in the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, which is on view until 29 August.

"As if the waves were rolling, the clouds were moving and the sails rippled in the breeze.." is how an admirer of the Frisian maritime painter Peter J. Sterkenburg (1955-2000) described the work of this gifted artist who died four years ago at a young age.
What is special about Sterkenburg is indeed the realistic way in which he painted sea and sky. The artist's work was already so much in demand in the last years of his life that a cupboard door in his studio was littered with notes bearing commissions for paintings he was still supposed to make. His paintings have garnered much appreciation in America and the Far East for many years, but were only known to a small circle in his home country.
Sterkenburg was self-taught. After high school where he already excelled in drawing, he did spend a blue Monday at the academy in Leeuwarden, but because abstract art was of paramount importance there, he quit after a lesson 'finger painting' and decided to develop his own style. The first years of his career as a painter were difficult. He devoted himself to a kind of serial work and continuously produced small paintings with chickens that he sold for a few bob. It was completely commercial work, but Sterkenburg later said that during that time he learned to use a brush and mix colours. A neighbor who dealt in art saw something in the young man and gave him a picture of a painting with ships from the Dutch Golden Age and asked him to make something similar, but in his own style.

This was the beginning of Sterkenburg's love for ships, water and sky and also explains why his paintings from his so-called early 'brown' period strongly resemble the paintings of illustrious seventeenth-century predecessors such as Jan van Gooyen and Ludolph Backhuysen. A visit to Hong Kong, where he was invited by KLM for a solo exhibition, turned out to be of great influence. The exhibition was sold out within two weeks and this also resulted in seventeen follow-up assignments. This was his big break.

The orders poured in, culminating in a commission from VFD, the architectural firm that furnishes the cruise ships of the Holland America Line. This work, no less than seven meters in length, represents the river IJ with VOC ships off Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the artist was unable to finish it as he died aged just 44 the day before Easter in 2000.

The Westfries Museum in Hoorn can be found on the Rode Steen and is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sailing ships in front of a harbour entrance, painted in 1997.


Wieringermeerbode May 7,1985 Ships of Sterkenburg in Koster Gallery

Schoorl - Anyone who is a lover of traditional painting, who also wants to see the sea, the ships, the wild elements and then again the immeasurable water surface, where the fine atmosphere of all maritime events is central. Anyone who wants to have this experience is welcome in the coming month in Koster Gallery at de Laanweg in Schoorl. Saturday afternoon, Mayor C. Bernard will officially open the exhibition, the unique collection of works by Peter Sterkenburg, the Frisian giant, the natural talent, barely 31 years young but without exaggeration, the discovery of our time.

Mayor opens impressive exhibition.

Sterkenburg will personally sign the catalogs. The exhibition is supplemented  (although this seems somewhat irreverent to the painter) by a large collection of nautical antiques.
Peter Sterkenburg, Harlinger by birth, has been fascinated for a very long time by everything that goes on at the water front. He spent hours at the Noorderhaven where he became mesmerized by the boats with their shipments of wood from Scandinavia or the cargo ships to England. From there the ferries to Terschelling and Vlieland depart or fishing boats return with their haul. Every city with a water front has its own artists, who become inspired by the water.

Harlingen has Peter Sterkenburg who has always been particularly interested in the wooden ships of the “brown” fleet. And that’s still the case. Not surprising at his age, by the way.

Everyone will feel at home at this exhibition. Including those visitors, and perhaps in particular those visitors with knowledge of art and admiration for Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Appel. But our own time also has many talented artists. One of them is Peter Sterkenburg. Old ships have become a part of his life. He leaves nothing, absolutely nothing to chance when he fills his canvases with his sailing world. It shows his great knowledge of everything that has to do with the sea. Within the picture frame, the eye is drawn towards the real sea, the thought of oil paint disappears when the clouds gather over a true naval battle. Critiques mention words like perfect and alive. And in fact, that’s true. Sterkenburg has rightly gained great fame abroad. His paintings "disappeared" from view towards America and many countries in Europe. A quiet evening in the harbour, during sunset, with ships at the quay. Historical buildings facing the water. Old fishing villages around the IJsselmeer and on our own North Sea coast. A whaler trapped between large icebergs and ice floes reminding us of the old Harlingen Greenland sailors. Ships, sea and clouds. They form an integral part of Peter Sterkenburg’s oeuvre and can be admired at Koster Gallery, where the promotion of this exceptional artist is considered a great honour. 

The gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm. Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Closed on Mondays. You should definitely not miss this.

•    One of the many seascapes by Peter Sterkenburg, which can be seen in gallery Koster throughout the coming month.

Article in the Peninsula Magazine, autumn, 1992

Sea And Be Seen
KLM brings celebrated Dutch artist Peter Sterkenburg to Hong Kong in November for his first overseas exhibition – a rare chance to view his moody and dramatic seascapes. Click here to download.


Leeuwarder Courant 26-10-2001 One third sea,Two thirds sky

Unknown in Harlingen but famous in the Far East. Maritime painter Peter J. Sterkenburg was a special case. He refused to call himself ‘artist’. He saw that as nonsense. Sterkenburg painted on request. His detailed, highly realistic works of ships and oceans caught on in the Asian business world. The born Harlinger passed away in Zurich (Friesland) last year. Museum Het Hannemahuis now devotes an exhibition to his maritime paintings.
When Sterkenburg turned inwards, nobody knew where his thoughts were taking him. Then he would sit in his living room, just behind the dike near Zurich, hand-roll his umpteenth heavy tobacco cigarette and say nothing. There was a fair chance that images of a tugboat approaching haunted his mind, or a ship in distress, or a shrimp cutter off the English coast or, perhaps, a bucket-chain dredger. Femke, the sister of the painter Peter J. Sterkenburg (1955-2000), who died last year, is still today guessing about the deepest emotions of her brother. “A special bloke”, she calls the taciturn man who had the size of a giant.  

Sterkenburg was 44 years old. He was found on Easter Sunday in his dike house: died of cardiac arrest, surrounded by his best friends: his maritime books and his paintings. During his lifetime, Sterkenburg, a native of Harlingen, made more than a thousand paintings of ships, seas and waves. An endless number of masts, cables, cargo, steam pipes, sails, and bows kept flowing from his brush.
Until the end of this month, Museum Het Hannemahuis will be showing nearly fifty paintings and seven sketches by Sterkenburg's hand. The exhibition was opened on October 16 by Minister of Economic Affairs Annemarie Jorritsma.
It is the first time that the work of the headstrong artist (dressed all his life in jeans, white T-shirt, goat wool socks and sandals) is shown in his hometown. Wry? His sister Femke shakes her head. “He did not have worries. He just continued to paint. To him recognition was never an issue. And he sold well, recognition or not. ”
Whereas Sterkenburg was completely unknown in the Netherlands, he was a celebrity in Asia. His photo featured in art supplements in Malaysian and Chinese newspapers and journalists lined up to interview the "famous painter from the Dutch seaport town called Harlingen". And although Sterkenburg was known as a modest, somewhat publicity-shy man, after his death a thick folder with Asian reviews, newspaper articles and photos was found. Secretly, the shy painter must have enjoyed all that attention, admiration and recognition, even though it happened so far from home.
In the Hannemahuis his paintings of boats, waves and seas are displayed in different rooms. Meanwhile, in the distance, the departure signal sounds of the ferry ‘Midsland’.  A little further on, trawlers from Urk sway on the waves in the fishing harbour. Any "ouwe seun", a nickname for the people from Harlingen, would without doubt enjoy the many maritime images of his fellow townsman.
The works – set in impressive gold-plated frames - exude an atmosphere of past glory. The Netherlands in the Golden Age: VOC ships off Asian coasts, fishing ships in fierce storms in the North Sea and tea clippers on the Pacific Ocean. Images of the past. There is no more sailing like that.
But in the imagination of Sterkenburg the ships never moored or disappeared. The painter felt like a fish in water in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He was able to perfectly portray the romantic-realistic style of that time. And, sure enough, that sold too! Through contact person Ton van der Werf, then general manager of KLM in Hong Kong, Sterkenburg's work received international recognition in the Asian branches of Smit Tak and KLM.  His maritime paintings were in great demand among large companies.
It was the perfect “Holland promotion” suitable for nostalgic Dutch people as well as curious Asian business partners. The Frisian painter became very popular and from that moment on was allowed to travel to the Far East regularly to gain new inspiration. “Sterkenburg was very good technically, but it is not elevated art,” says curator Hugo ter Avest of Het Hannemahuis, while stopping in front of the painting "Trapped in the ice".

The canvas features a whaler stuck in the ice of the North or South Pole. The painter made the image at the request of a client who had a stamp with a nice picture on it. Ter Avest: “He painted for a living. In the established art world that is of course not done.” Sterkenburg knew very well that he was a commercial painter. He did not see that as a problem, as he was averse to "artistic poppycock". "I'd rather sell than be famous." Impressionism? That was not his thing. Above all else "it had to be right." An endearing stance.
That is why the painter did not finish his education at the Ubbo Emmius Academy in Leeuwarden. The Telegraaf-reading, car-loving and cigar-smoking Sterkenburg didn’t like all that fuss around modern art. “That Academy was total nonsense,” he later told friends. Sterkenburg's formula was simple: the details of the ships had to be correct. And then: one third sea, two thirds sky. 
The nicest, most interesting paintings, however, do not show old VOC ships, but depict the modern Star Ferries of Hong Kong or a Chinese cargo ship at Kai Tak airport where skyscrapers reach the sky. 
The romantic, almost sentimental, maritime passion is linked to modern life in these contemporary paintings by Sterkenburg. That convinces and has a refreshing effect. The old familiar formula of "one third sea, two thirds sky" is being revived.
                                                                                             KIRSTEN VAN SANTEN  

The exhibition in Het Hannemahuis on the Voorstraat in Harlingen can be seen until November 24. The exhibition includes a catalog "Bound to the sea" by Henri van der Zee and Ton van der Werf with photos by Gert Fopma. A publication of the Peter J. Sterkenburg Maritime Paintings Foundation. f 69.95.

Kunst & Antiekrevue mei/juni 1985

By Peter Sterkenburg
In the scenic North Holland village of Schoorl, painter Peter Sterkenburg will be exhibiting at A.J. Koster Gallery at Laanweg 7-11. Peter Sterkenburg was born in the port of Harlingen in 1955, which immediately explains his relationship with the sea. He is self-taught and from a young age started painting characteristic fishermen's heads and boats during certain festivities in Harlingen. The result is that he is now very knowledgeable about everything that has to do with ships.

The skies in his paintings are exceptional and mood-defining. Whether it's a sunset or rough weather, Sterkenburg's paintings remain fascinating to look at.
He especially loves fishing boats and old sailing vessels. As a result Peter Sterkenburg is often found wandering around the harbour looking for special ships.
Much of his work has been sold to Canada, America and Germany in recent years. Reason why the A.J. Koster Galerie is very fortunate with this exhibition, which is open daily.

Peter J. Sterkenburg, maritime painter (1955-2000). Noordhollands Dagblad Monday 2 August 2004

Bound to the sea
HOORN - 'As if the waves were rolling, the clouds were moving and the sails rippled in the breeze…’, is how an admirer of the Frisian maritime painter Peter J Sterkenburg (1955-2000) described the work of this gifted artist who died four years ago at a young age. What is special about Sterkenburg is indeed the very realistic way in which he painted sea and sky. The artist's work was so admired during the last years of his life that a cabinet door in his studio was strewn with notes bearing commissions for paintings he still should have done. His paintings have received a lot of appreciation in America and the Far East for many years, but were only known in our country in a small circle.

Peter Sterkenburg was self-taught. After high school where he already excelled in drawing, he did spend a blue Monday at the academy in Leeuwarden, but because abstract art was of paramount importance there, he decided to give up 'finger painting' after one lesson and decided to develop his own style. The first years of his career as a painter were difficult. He started with a kind of serial work, which meant that he almost continuously produced small canvases with chickens that he sold for a few quid.

It was entirely commercial work, but Sterkenburg later said that during that time he learned to use a brush and mix colours. A neighbour who dealt in art saw something in the young man and gave him a picture of a painting with 17th century ships and asked him to make something similar, but in his own style.

This was the beginning of Sterkenburg's love for ships, water and sky and also explains why his paintings from his so-called 'brown' early period strongly resemble the paintings of illustrious 17th-century predecessors such as Jan van Gooyen and Ludolph Backhuysen. Although his Paintings became increasingly lighter in touch over the years, a visit to Hong Kong, where he was invited by KLM for a solo exhibition, proved to be of great influence. There he saw light that was different from that in the Netherlands, and he incorporated it into a new generation of paintings that stand out because of the special effect of light and shadow.

That exhibition in Hong Kong, which sold out within two weeks, and resulted in a further seventeen commissions, was his big breakthrough. Later exhibitions followed in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta and Sydney that were just as successful as in Hong Kong and his name was now also becoming known in the Netherlands.

The orders poured in, culminating in an order from VFD, the architectural firm that furnishes the cruise ships of the Holland-America Line. This work, no less than seven meters in length, represents the IJ with VOC ships off Amsterdam. Unfortunately the artist could not finish it because he died, only 44 years old, on Easter day in 2000.

The artist Peter Sterkenburg is without doubt one of the most important maritime painters of the 20th century. He was 'Bound to the sea', which is also the title of the exhibition in the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, which shows the versatility of the artist starting this summer until 29 August. The beautiful book 'Bound to the sea' , which contains more than a hundred pictures of his paintings is also available here for 29.90 euros. His work can also be admired on the website
Westfries Museum, Rode Steen 1, Hoorn. Tel. 0229-280028, Fax 0229-280029, Open: Mon.till Fri. 11 am-5pm, Sat. and Sun. 2 pm-5pm. Closed: Monday, August 16.

Exhibition of Peter Sterkenburg's work in the Westfries museum. Harlinger Courant June 29, 2004

HOORN -Yesterday evening a special exhibition of paintings by the maritime painter Peter J. Sterkenburg, who died in 2000 at the age of 44, was opened in the Westfries museum in Hoorn. More than twenty paintings, mostly from private collections, have been brought together in this beautiful museum building.

Watched by an interested audience vice-admiral retired, Esquire H. van Foreest, performed the official opening. As a member of the board of KNRM, he praised the fantastic work of this painter, still unknown to many, and proudly pointed out that there is also a large canvas by Sterkenburg in the office of the director of the rescue company. The chairman of the Peter J. Sterkenburg Maritime Painting Foundation, gave an account of Peter's life and what the Foundation does. This is the second exhibition of work by the artist who died much too early. In 2001 the first was held in the Hannemahuis in Harlingen. That exhibition was a resounding success. This second exhibition in Hoorn where also 'new' work by Peter can be admired will certainly not be the last one. The exhibition, which also features historical ship models by Ger van Beilen from Schagen, will last until 1 October.

Lichtjes in je ogen (Lights in your eyes). Originally published: October 21, 2011

A series of sixteen Dutch Christmas stories written by different authors. The cover of this paperback features the "Winter Landscape" that Peter Sterkenburg painted in 1988 as a gift to the then ice master of the village of Zurich in Friesland, where the artist lived and worked at the time.



MarineNieuws, Informative magazine for the Royal Navy, November 1999

175 years KNRM
During the festivities surrounding the anniversary of the Royal Dutch Rescue Company (KNRM), the Commander (BDZ) gave a speech in the Ridderzaal at The Hague. During his speech, the BDZ (Commander of the Naval Forces) discussed the excellent cooperation between the KNRM and the Royal Dutch Navy and expressed his appreciation for the heroic actions of the staff who have been involved in various rescue operations over the years. During the reception at the Coast Guard Center in IJmuiden, the BDZ offered the board of the KNRM a painting to emphasize on the one hand the great appreciation for the KNRM and on the other hand to symbolize the excellent cooperation between the rescue company and the navy. 
The painting depicts the joint rescue operation by the KNRM and the navy during the rescue operations on 6 July 1990, when the tugboat Wotan ran into great difficulties in severe weather (force 9 and high waves) to the north of Terschelling. A lifeboat from the KNRM together with a helicopter from the Royal Navy managed to rescue all sixteen people on the ship, which was in bad shape with 50 degrees of heel.

Harlinger Courant June 3, 2005

ZURICH \ HARLINGEN On Wednesday afternoon, mayor TH.R. Piersma of Wonseradeel and mayor Chris Arlman of Harlingen unveiled a special memorial plaque at the Caspar de Roblesdijk in Zurich. This in the presence of many guests, as well as the artist Lia Krol from Erichem, Gelderland who created the bronze plaque. The plaque is in memory of the Frisian painter Peter Sterkenburg, who died in 2000 and lived here from 1987 until his death.

On behalf of the board of the 'Peter J. Sterkenburg Maritime Paintings Foundation', chairman Ton van der Werf welcomed the many attendees. The foundation was established in 2001 with the aim of bringing the work of this painter, who sadly died far too young, to the attention of a wide audience. The foundation was set up by Peter's youngest sister Femke, who also passed away at a young age last year. According to Van der Werf, Peter Sterkenburg was a very special talent. "I dare to predict that he will become the best maritime artist in the Netherlands in the 20th century, as soon as more people will learn about him."
Sterkenburg himself was very modest and did not seek publicity, which means that he is hardly known in his own country, except in maritime circles. In contrast, his paintings are considered very special abroad, especially in the Far East. The activities of the foundation are funded by the sale of, among other things, the biography 'Bound to the sea' written by Henri van der Zee. He lives in London and came over especially for this occasion. The publication about Peter Sterkenburg also contains his paintings, with the last addition being the beautiful view of Harlingen, which will soon be available on the website

The sea
On December 19, 1955, Peter Sterkenburg was born in Harlingen, and he was always attracted by the sea. Perhaps this had to do with the profession of his father, who was an officer in the merchant navy. In addition to father, mother and Peter, the Sterkenburg family also consisted of the daughters Tanja and Femke. Later when father had left the merchant navy, the family moved to Zeeland where father got a job in a hotel in Haamstede.
Unfortunately, he died at the age of 36 and Peter's mother decided to return to Friesland. They settled in Franeker. Later at the age of 12 Peter went to the Simon Vestdijk Rijksscholengemeenschap in Harlingen. His talent for drawing became more and more evident. After his military service he decided to study art at the Academy Ubbo Emmius in Leeuwarden. Since the teachers were only interested in modern art, he did not feel at home here and left school. To earn some money, he painted depictions of chickens which was eagerly sought after by the public.
In the eighties he moved to Zurich, Friesland, where he had found a house with a studio on the Caspar de Roblesdijk. Because of his love for the sea, seascapes were favorite subjects for him. In 1998, he started receiving assignments from the Netherlands, but he was already very successful abroad. Unfortunately Peter Sterkenburg died suddenly on January 19, 2000, from heart failure. He was only 44 years old. His mother also died a few days later at the age of 72.

The unveiled plaque reads: "This is where maritime painter Peter J. Sterkenburg lived and worked from 1987 to 2000." Furthermore, the face of Peter Sterkenburg is clearly depicted with birds, a boat and waves.

With his painting “DE SAEN”, Peter Sterkenburg
lives up to his reputation as a distinguished artist.
His impression of „DE SAEN“ as it looked 150 years
ago is an extraordinary piece of art in every aspect:
interpretation as well as composition and technique.

Peter Sterkenburg was born on the 18th of December
1955 in Harlingen, where he used to roam about the
local harbour as a child. His romantic style and his
great knowledge of  ancient sailing vessels and the
sea have established his fame as a great artist, both
on national and international scale.

Peter’s work is now in such demand that he only works on commission.

“DE SAEN” in the year 1850.
The painting takes us back to days long past, when
there were as many as 500 mills in operation along
“DE SAEN”, to the times when the world was yet unpolluted and the wind was the only source of
energy available.

These windmills were the first signs of an industrial
expansion that eventually turned the Zaan-region
into an important center of commerce: the processing
and production industry for which the area is 
famous owed it existence directly to these wind-
mills. Enormous amounts of cocoa, grain, oil-bearing
seeds, timber and the like were supplied and
processed here. Many important Dutch companies
were founded here, like for instance……1)

Wind and water, vital elements for the mills along
“DE SAEN” in the past, nowadays an alternative
source of energy in the fight against pollution: times have changed.

De Telegraaf 18-10-2001 "Bound to the sea" 

Harlingen has finally done justice to one of its great descendants. Minister of Economic Affairs Annemarie Jorritsma, opened an exhibition of the paintings by Peter Sterkenburg in the local museum, Het Hannemahuis. The artist, who died at the age of 45 begin 2000, was without doubt considered the greatest maritime painter of the last century by some speakers.

Peter never received such recognition in his own country during his life. “He was celebrated in the Far East, for example in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and even in Australia,” says the man who in fact ’discovered’ him, Ton van der Werf. This former KLM manager in countries such as Malaysia and Ghana has devoted himself particularly to the painter in recent years. “He was my friend and a special person”.

The result is not only the exhibition of no fewer than 47 canvases, but also a biography, written by colleague Henri van der Zee and illustrated with almost 150 reproductions. The exhibition and book go together under the title ‘Bound to the sea’. It is a beautifully produced work and it is therefore no wonder that 4100 of the 5000 copies had already been sold. And even after the opening, the books flew out the door.
Given his reputation abroad, Minister Jorritsma, herself a true Frisian, called Peter Sterkenburg one of her best export products in a witty speech. She had met the painter in 1996 in Jakarta and opened one of his exhibitions there.
Curator Hugo ter Avest said he was very happy with the rehabilitation of his fellow townsman and said that this is the largest exhibition he has ever held. But the last painting by Sterkenburg is missing. It is a seascape of Amsterdam as it looked in the 18th century and it would hardly have fit in the museum. It is no less than seven meters long and hangs in one of the lounges of the ‘Amsterdam’, the new cruise ship of the Holland-America Line.

Mayor Chris Arlman, who was present with all his aldermen and modestly kept himself in the background - "I'm actually on holiday" - told me that it was a shame that the Frisians still show little interest in Sterkenburg, even now. "That's probably because they don't really consider Harlingen a Frisian city," he joked. One of the bystanders could not help but point out that this is partly the fault of the Harlingen themselves. "They look the other way too much, across the Afsluitdijk, to Holland".

It is an age-old discussion between the Frisians and the Dutch, whIch however, could not spoil the atmosphere at the reception in the beautiful historic garden of the museum on an unprecedentedly beautiful autumn day.


Special sea views of Sterkenburg. Article in In Friesland Uit, nov/dec 2001  

The Frisian painter Peter J. Sterkenburg is without doubt one of the most prominent maritime painters of the 20th century. He passed away last year at the age of just 44. The artist, who lived in Zurich near Harlingen, was so successful in the last years of his life that his paintings were already sold before he finished them.

That appreciation did him good, but he shunned publicity and preferred to stay in the background. Until 16 November, an exhibition of the work of Peter Sterkenburg can be seen in the municipal museum 't Hannemahuis in Harlingen. About fifty of his works have been brought together in this exhibition. On this occasion a book was

published containing a biography and more than a hundred colour images of his work. Museum ‘t Hannernahuîs also has a collection of tile works, silver, the Vestdijk room and a number of ship models and paintings.
Open: Monday to Friday
from 1.30 pm to 5 pm.


And again we found a forgery, this time in a gallery in Paris, France. The gallery apparently only looked at the signature and it is therefore understandable that this painting was mistaken for a ‘Sterkenburg’. However, the technique, the color use, the painting surface and the signature are in no way comparable to those of Peter Sterkenburg. We have informed the gallery that they are offering a forgery for sale. Photos of the painting are shown. 


Peter Sterkenburg’s work is very popular and that also means that there are always people that want to exploit his reputation. So please be careful because forgeries exist. In early June 2020 our experts discovered a so-called ‘Sterkenburg’ on the auction site that set off the alarm bells. The painting ‘Sailing ships at Night’ bore the signature of Peter Sterkenburg but the technique did not at all resemble the superb palette of the artist. A closer look revealed that the Catawiki canvas was probably made in the late 1950’s by a painter by the name of Otten who was known for producing the same themes in larger numbers. We even found a canvas by Otten that is almost identical to the Catawiki painting. The photos of both Paintings and their signatures are shown.  


In This Hour - Novel written by Rudolf van Reest (pseudonym of K.C. Spronsen) about the Second World War, the landing of the Allied Forces on the Dutch island of Walcheren and the flood disaster in 1953. The cover of this English translation of the Dutch novel shows a painting by Peter Sterkenburg depicting the landing on Walcheren in 1944.





From Omaha to the Scheldt - The author, Professor John Forfar, MC, FRSE, (1916-2013), was the Medical Officer attached to the 47 Royal Marine Commando throughout it brief history. This account is based on his and the few survivors’ recollections of the fierce battles fought on the shores of France, Belgium and Holland. The cover of the book shows a painting by Peter Sterkenburg depicting the landing on Walcheren in 1944.



Book  'Bound to the Sea' A Painter of Seascapes 1955-2000

The second English edition of ‘Bound to the sea, Peter J. Sterkenburg, a painter of seascapes’ can be ordered via ‘Contact’. We will advise you by e-mail what the cost will be of sending a copy to your country and how you can pay. The publication has a hard (laminated) cover and contains, in addition to a biography of the artist, more than 100 colour images of his paintings. The book costs € 29,50 excluding registered shipping.







New sea palace from HAL in service

You can view the full article here (Dutch), courtesy of De Telegraaf


FORT LAUDERDALE (Florida) - When you float with Frans and Hedwig Dingemans on the waves of a turbulent Caribbean Sea and pass through eleven floors of lounges, restaurants and corridors of the 'MS Amsterdam III', the latest addition and the brand new flagship of the Holland-America Line, you get the impression that you are on their private yacht. That's how they talk about it.

"It also feels a bit like my ship," says Frans (57) from Utrecht, who took care of the complete interior of the newest HAL sea giant, a cruise ship of 61,000 tons, which bare already cost about 70 million guilders.   

"The Amsterdam is my eighth ship", says engineer Frans, designer and architect. "Frans is actually a genius", Hedwig whispers to me. "He has thought up everything you see. Every rug, every lampshade, every paneling, every chair, every decoration, every piece of art especially made or purchased and restored."

What you find: not only a sailing five-star hotel, but also a floating museum. A real Love Boat too. 


Frans has invested millions in art and antiques. Huge Amsterdam tile panels from the Golden Age, freshly baked in Italy, monumental paintings from the heyday of the VOC by Peter Sterkenburg, baroque angel statues from 1710, still lifes in the old style by Cornelis Le Mair from Eindhoven. But also tasteful tapestries from Barbara Broekman from Amsterdam. Dutch masterpieces, old, new and copied, because that is what the Americans want: a lot of culture with the Dutch touch.  

Frans and Hedwig Dingemans: "Holidays and going out mean seeing and being seen"

New Guest Book! - Have a look at our new guestbook. You will find it in the menu bar at the top of this page. We look forward to your entries. We reserve the right to discard messages that violate the ‘netiquette’ policy.

Holland America Line August 31, 2005 - The board of our foundation was invited by VFD, the architectural firm responsible for the furnishing of all the ships of the HAL, to visit the cruise liner ‘Rotterdam’ which was then docked in Rotterdam. In total 16 prints of Peter Sterkenburgs paintings can be found hanging in the corridors of the ‘Rotterdam’. And on display on its sister ship, the ‘MS Amsterdam III’ is the giant, 7 meter-long painting of the Dutch capital city in the 17th century. Below an impression.

De Rotterdam Rederij: Holland America Line



Trends: Mixing Old Masters and Antique Artworks into a Modern Scheme - Antiques and period paintings are dusting off their fusty image. With the right contemporary setting, a carefully executed contrast between old and new can bring out the beauty of traditional masterpieces all over again. Old never looked so fresh. ArtRevisited is a printing company which offers a number of colour prints of Peter Sterkenburg’s paintings. These are printed by a special printing process (Giclée) and are of exceptional quality. You can find this company on



Wikipedia  Peter Sterkenburg can now also be found on Wikipedia. Click here


Article in the magazine De Blauwe Wimpel November 2001. 

The Dutch text was translated into English. Click here to download.




Henri van der Zee, author of Sterkenburg’s biography ‘Bound to the Sea’, is offered a copy of the book by

co-author, Ton van der Werf in 2001 in the artist's favorite pub ‘De Steenen Man’ in Zurich, Friesland.     






"As if the waves were alive, the clouds moved and the wind swept the sails ...."

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