News 2015-2023

Village paper De Schudzeef 03-2015

Maritime paintings Peter Sterkenburg in the Visserijmuseum Zoutkamp

The Visserijmuseum (Fisheries Museum), Reitdiepskade in Zoutkamp organizes an exhibition under the title "Bound to the Sea" from 1 April to 31 October. The exhibition consists of various works by maritime painter Peter Sterkenburg (1955-2000) who created paintings of Zoutkamp and part of the Zoutkamper fleet. The paintings on display in the Visserijmuseum form part of the collection of Matthijs van der Ploeg.

Peter Sterkenburg, from Harlingen, is without doubt one of the most important Dutch maritime painters of the twentieth century. The appreciation that his work garnered, especially in the last 10 years of his life, pleased him, but because of his modest character he preferred to remain in the background. He didn't really need publicity. Everything he made was sold in the shortest possible time anyway. This explains why his work is only known in a small circle in the Netherlands. The Visserijmuseum expects that this exhibition will change this and that his beautiful paintings will soon receive the appreciation that they deserve from a wider audience.

The Frisian artist was so successful in the last years of his life that his paintings were sold before he had finished them. On a list on one of his doors were the many special commissions that he still had to finish. His works are scattered all over the world and are a source of delight for the lucky owners. In the 26 years that Peter Sterkenburg has worked as a professional painter, he has mastered a technique that is unique and clearly recognizable.

Matthijs van der Ploeg came into contact with the painter and noticed that this artist was able to translate his wishes into paintings. The contact grew into a collaboration that led to the production of a seisable number of large oil paintings. Fishing boats were immortalized at sea, during fishing or when they fell dry on the mud flats. Also special are the harbour views of the fishing village of Zoutkamp.

The Visserijmuseum is therefore proud to be able to exhibit the paintings so that they can be seen by a wide audience from 1 April
Source:De Schudzeef 03-2015

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

Expo Sterkenburg & De Vries in FSM BN 25-11-2015 


The preamble to the winter exhibition in the Fries Scheepvaart Museum, from coming Saturday to 17 January, which was planned in this newspaper last time, disappeared as result of a technical problem. 

The exhibition is dedicated to two Dutch painters of harbour scenes: Peter Sterkenburg and Cornelis Albert de Vries. 

Peter Sterkenburg was born in Harlingen in 1955 as the son of a sailor. Ay after completing his military service he decided to make painting his profession. He settled in Zurich, Friesland, and devoted himself to painting seascapes. His oeuvre includes an impressive number of paintings. He often worked on assignment, but his non-commissioned canvases were also usually sold before the paint had dried. He often favoured old ships, but Sterkenburg also captured modern vessels. His style is strongly reminiscent of monumental seascapes from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His work has been highly regarded internationally, especially in Asia. Sterkenburg died in the year 2000, much too early. at the height of his fame. 


Cornelis Albert de Vries was born in Alkmaar in 1940 as a descendant of a family of skippers. In de Vries' works, the ship is always the main focus. He thus follows in the footsteps of well-known ship portraitists such as Jacob Spin and Dirk Antoon Teupen. De Vries paints ships as the sailor believes they should be painted. Not only the detailing of the ships is correct down to the last detail. The rendering of skies and sea are also very convincing. His ships are really carried by the water. Work by both marine painters can be seen in this double exhibition. 

December 03, 2015, pg. 34 'Invisible' marine painters in Sneek

Gitte Brugman

The Scheepvaartmuseum in Sneek, Friesland, exhibits the work of two successful marine painters. This time, friends of the museum did not immediately go for coffee during a lecture, but first turned towards the paintings.

There are many enthusiasts interested in good marine painters. Their work is often sold to individuals and companies, and it remains 'invisible' to the general public. The Scheepvaartmuseum in Sneek changes that with the current double exhibition. The imposing seascapes of the Harlinger Peter Sterkenburg found their way to private collections such as those of Donald Trump, but also to companies such as the Holland America Line and Smit International. Technical draftsman C.A. (Kees) de Vries once sold a ship's portrait through a gallery in The Hague. Frits Donker saw it, wanted to buy it, but was too late. He made contact with the artist and has since bought all his work. “I am actually his patron.” Just like Donker, Ton van der Werf is a member of the board of the Peter J. Sterkenburg Maritime Paintings Foundation. They brought together the work of the two marine painters and supplied background information. Donker is pleased with the attention given to these 'minor marine artists'. ,,They are in danger of fading away otherwise. '' Sterkenburg was born in Harlingen. His father was a sailor in the merchant navy, but opted for a job ashore when another daughter was born. Peter and his sisters grew up in the Dutch province of Zeeland. After five years, his father applied for a job in Groningen but the moment he heard that he was getting the job, he died of a heart attack, at only 36 years old. Mother Ans settled with her family in Franeker, where Peter finished secondary school. He was really only interested in drawing and social studies. He enrolled at the Ubbo Emmius Academy in Leeuwarden but decided to go his own way at a young age. He wanted to make a living as an artist. His paintings of chickens sold well, but neighbour Doede Bruinsma – a wholesaler in all kinds of art – saw his talent and encouraged him to specialize in seascapes. When he met art dealer Aard Koster, his career gained momentum. He moved to Zurich in the province of Friesland, where he could see the sea from his bedroom. Because he sold well, he had enough time to study his great examples, such as Hendrik Willem Mesdag or the English marine painters Montague Dawson and John Stobart. Sterkenburg regarded painting as his profession, which he wanted to master thoroughly. He was extremely precise, something that appeals to enthusiasts of ships. Because he only painted from reality, he regularly traveled all over the world to study the light, clouds and sea of the places he captured. The effect of this can be seen in his work.

“If there is no cat hair on the canvas, it is not a real Sterkenburg”

Once he had been to Kuala Lumpur, his skies became lighter. His paintings vary in size, up to a wall panel of 7 meters. Sterkenburg made about forty paintings a year, which he often sold before he had finished them. “He was always working with his cat Josephine on his lap,” says neighbor Henk Zwering. “If there is not a cat hair somewhere on the canvas, then it is not a real Sterkenburg,” he said jokingly. The successful painter died in 2000 of heart failure, just like his father. The Alkmaarder Kees de Vries is still alive but does not like to go public. Frits Donker, who owns most of his work, spoke about him during the opening of the exhibition. “I am a boat enthusiast. Because I couldn't find what I was looking for in models, I ended up in paintings.'' Just like Sterkenburg, De Vries can only paint what he has seen himself. All his work is correct in detail; if possible, De Vries even studies the blueprints of a ship. Donker: ,,He also builds models, which are so good that they are included in the collections of museums. Just like his paintings.” The patron has published a book in which the work of De Vries is brought together. With each painting he provides information about the ship depicted. The book Bound to the Sea, about Peter Sterkenburg, is also for sale in the Maritime Museum. It contains not only an extensive biography but also information about the vessels depicted and how a painting was created.

Sneek – Frisian Maritime Museum: Mon to Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-5pm,


Gehoord & Gezien (Heard & Seen) 08-12-2015 


Museum visitors Tineke Fhaner from Makkum and Dicky Bosma from Bolsward have a very sharp eye. They recently visited the exhibition about the marine painters in the Scheepvaartmuseum in Sneek, about which this newspaper wrote extensively last week. That article also contained the anecdote about painter Peter Sterkenburg who often worked with cat Josephine on his lap. If a cat hair is missing on the canvas, so the story goes, then it would not be a real Sterkenburg. And good gracious: “We detected one”, write Fhaner and Bosma enthusiastically. In the painting of the lifeboat, a cat's hair glistens in the center of the canvas, above the splashing water. 

De Blauwe Wimpel juli/augustus 2018 

Peter J. Sterkenburg, born in Harlingen was an autodidact. He didn't feel at home at the art academy and chose to develop himself further as a painter. After a difficult initial period, sometimes he paid for his meals at Hotel Zeezicht and Anna Caspari in Harlingen with a painting, he was given assignments to the assembly line by a small circle of lovers of his seascapes. That was the reason that he was less well known in large circles at the time. He was a "wet" painter. He preferred oil paint and together with his brushwork, sometimes as many as 25 layers, a specific Sterkenburg was created. You hear waves rustle, the clouds move and every ship, whether it was a VOC ship from the 17th century or a modern lifeboat, was painted with extreme precision. Continue reading here to read the article. 


Wikipedia 29-12-2018

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

New Guest Book! 28-01-2020

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.

Forgery 20-6-2020 

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.


Forgery  20-6-2020 

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. 

"Hobby Painter" Mister Agema 19-02-2022

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. 

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

Municipality Súdwest-Fryslân names cycle path Zurich after artist Peter J. Sterkenburg 13-05-2022

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

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. 



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