Toward the end of the 19th century Frans Oerder was recognised as one of the first artists to portray the Transvaal landscape with some degree of authenticity. Another key observation is the manner in which these processes were communicated with his protegé, J.H Pierneef.
After a painting holiday in Zululand followed by an exhibition in Cape Town Oerder achieved a milestone position for any professional artist. President Paul Kruger appointed him as the republic’s official war artist. He subsequently joined the Boer forces in order to realistically illustrate “battle front” scenes. Many of these paintings are now being housed in the War Museum in Bloemfontein, Africana Museum in Johannesburg as well as with University of Pretoria’s art collection. A number of observers have commented on the superiority of Oerder’s work. Notably his reflections of the Boer War carry the marks of a highly-regarded draughtsman in composition, facility and accuracy.
After the war his life returned to “normal”; at least normal for artists of that era. He undertook travels around East Africa. Oerder was unfortunate to contract malaria during his travels. During this time he continued to receive requests for some of his work. His election to the South African Society of Artists in 1905 saw the tide finally turning in his favour. During this time he continued to receive a number of commissions for paintings.
He eventually returned to Holland in 1908 for the first time in 18 years, after finding it hard to adapt to post-war South Africa.