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"African lady at work"

Signed lower right

Oil on canvas, 38.5 x 23.5 cm


Frans Oerder was born in Rotterdam, studied there and in Brussels, and moved to South Africa in 1890 together with his brother. After a difficult start, among other things painting poles along the Delagoa Bay Railway in the employment of the Zuid Afrikaansche Spoorweg Maatschappij, in 1894 he became an art teacher at the Staatsmeisjesskool in Pretoria. He also had a few private students among them Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957) and he helped the sculptor Anton van Wouw (1862-1945) with commissions.


With the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899 he was appointed official war artist by President Paul Kruger. His sketches and paintings from this period are held in the War Museum in Bloemfontein, the Africana Museum in Johannesburg and the art collection of the University of Pretoria. After the war in 1903, he travelled and painted along the East African coast where this painting could have been painted, and he received several commissions for portraits such as that of General Louis Botha.

In 1908 he moved to Holland where he married a fellow painter, Gerda Pitlo, and under her influence started on still life compositions, mainly flower studies. In 1938 he returned to Pretoria together with his wife where he was offered a studio in the tower of the City Hall and where he painted several important portraits including Jan Smuts. He died in Pretoria in 1944.

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