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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