Oerder, Frans (1867 – 1944)

Frans Oerder was born in Rotterdam, Holland in 1867. The youngest of seven children his father felt that

art as a career was foolish, but agreed to his training as a decorator. From 1880 – 1885 he studied at the

Rotterdam Academy, winning the King William III Gold Medal Bursary, later also touring Italy and then

studying in Brussels, thanks to a small inheritance from his father.

Following his brother, he emigrated to South Africa in 1890, and initially worked as a house painter and

decorator for the firm, De Wyn & Engelenburg. Due to shortage of work he joined the Zuid-Afrikaansche

Spoorweg Maatschappij and painted poles along the Delagoa Bay railway line. In 1894 he took up the

post of art teacher at the Staatsmeisjesskool, which later became Pretoria High School for Girls. At the

same time he rented a studio in Church Street East. At this stage he was drawing newspaper cartoons

and helping Anton Van Wouw with commissions. A frequent visitor to his studio during this period was

one of his students, JH Pierneef.

During the Anglo-Boer War he was appointed official war artist by President Paul Kruger. His sketches

and paintings from this bitter period are held at the War Museum in Bloemfontein, Africana Museum

in Johannesburg and the art collection of the University of Pretoria. After the war he found conditions

difficult in South Africa and in 1908 returned to the Netherlands. H first settled in Brabant but later

moved to Amsterdam where he married fellow artist Gerda Pitlo in 1910. She was the one to influence

him into doing still life’s.

He eventually returned to Pretoria with his wife in 1938. Complications following a bout of pneumonia

left him debilitated, and he died in Pretoria in 1944.

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