News and announcements
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
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
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.
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 www.petersterkenburg.nl.
Westfries Museum, Rode Steen 1, Hoorn. Tel. 0229-280028, Fax 0229-280029, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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 www.petersterkenburg.nl.
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
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.
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 below.
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 Catawiki.nl 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 below.
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.
You need a pdf reader to read the articles.
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.
Wikipedia Peter Sterkenburg can now also be found on Wikipedia. Click here
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 www.artrevisited.com
The Dutch text was translated into English. Click here to download.
Article from periodical ‘Success’. Edition April 1996. Images of the sea
Sharmini Nesaratnam visited leading maritime artist Peter Sterkenburg at his home in Zurich, Holland, to find out what’s in store for his Kuala Lumpur exhibition this month.
Vastwerken December 2010 - In Vastwerken (Official body of the AVOM General Association Former staff of the Royal Netherlands Navy) of December 2010 you can read an extensive article about Peter J Sterkenburg.
The Dutch text was translated into English Click here to download.
Bronze plaque in memory of Peter J. Sterkenburg - In memory of Peter Sterkenburg, a plaque (created by artist Lia Krol) was unveiled on 1 June 2005 on the wall of his former home by mayor Chris Arlman of Harlingen, the city where Peter was born and mayor Theunis Piersma of Wûnseradiel where the artist lived and worked.
The Dutch text was translated into English Click here to download.
Article in the magazine De Blauwe Wimpel of July/August 2018.- An interesting article about Peter Sterkenburg was published in the magazine De Blauwe Wimpel of July/August 2018. The center page depicted a beautiful painting of the IJ, Amsterdam’s waterfront, in the 17th century. Courtesy De Blauwe Wimpel
The Dutch text was translated into English Click here to download.
After the Exhibition in Jakarta (1996), Peter Sterkenburg returned to the Netherlands. The assignments kept coming in with, among other things, an assignment from VFD, the architectural firm that furnishes the Holland America Line cruise ships. This 7 meter long work presents the IJ with VOC ships off Amsterdam. The artist was unable to finish the painting, he died, 44 years old, the day before Easter in 2000. A year after his death, a biography was published by a foundation that wants to bring Sterkenburg's work to a wider public's attention.