Born illegitimate and bi-racial, orphaned young, half Indonesian, half Dutch, and finally and impact-fully American, Fokko Tadama’s story is as interesting as his body of work. And it varies in the telling (see below)
Mentor to the Issei community of painters, he is an important figure in the Northwest School of painting. First steeped in the Dutch tradition of landscape and maritime painting and French impressionism, his time in Seattle turned him towards the American strain of Ashcan realism, of which this painting is a terrific example.
One of his major canvases, “Public Market, Seattle”, now hangs in the De Young Museum in San Francisco. We think this one is of equal quality and interest.
Price on request.
Born in Bandar, India to a Dutch father and an Indonesian mother, Tadama received his training at the Academy of Fine Arts, Amsterdam and the Rijks Museum School of Art, in addition to private instruction in Holland. The Tadama family estate at Katwijk aan Zee in Holland was an idyllic setting for the artist and his wife, Tarmine Groenveld (1871-1938), a well-known marine painter. Both artists were very successful and sold numerous paintings of popular Dutch seascapes both in Holland and for the export market. Unfortunately, within a few years of their marriage, Groenveld had to be permanently institutionalized for acute psychological disorders.
Distraught, Tadama left his native country and family to begin a new life and emigrated to Seattle, via Paris and New York, around 1910. Arriving with a European exhibition history, he held his first one-man show in Seattle in 1913 at the Seattle Public Library, which was extremely well received by the community.
The following year, he started the Fokko Tadama Art School in Seattle that would become an important starting point for many of the city’s better known artists. Tadama was especially influential with Seattle’s Japanese-American artists including painter Kenjiro Nomura and photographer Soichi Sunami.
An Impressionist painter, Tadama utilized the direct, spontaneous brushwork associated with impressionism but with a subdued use of color. Fokko re-married a Seattle woman and continued a successful career as painter and teacher until the Great Depression of the 1930’s changed the course of his life and career. With the declining demand for art during this economic crisis, Fokko joined dozens of other needy artists on the W.P.A. Federal Art Projects as an easel painter. Curiously, he began painting Dutch coastal scenes again in the manner that was so successful for him thirty years earlier. In 1937, despondent, economically insecure and in poor health, Fokko Tadama ended his own life in Seattle.
From an exchange on an online message board pertaining to Fokko Tadama:
The father of Fokko Tadama, Reinier Willem Tadama (born Zutphen, The Netherlands 1844; died Wiesbaden, Germany 1879) from a distinquished Dutch family, left in 1869 for Indonesia (at that time: The Netherlands-Dutch Indies). There he became “assistent-resident” (governor) of Atjeh. His son Fokko was born may 16th 1871 in Bandar, regio Palembang (also Indonesia). His mother was a native girl by the name of Pimbang.
Because of his illness (tuberculosis?) Reinier returned to Holland dec. 1878 and took Fokko with him, whom he officially legalized. He died taking a medical cure in Germany july 1879. (a brother and a sister of his died the same year, 29 resp. 31 years old).
Fokko was raised in Holland by an aunt. He studied art at the “Rijksacademie” in Amsterdam (1892-1895). In 1895 he married Thamina Henriette Bartholda Jacoba Groeneveld (1871-1938), daughter of Hinrich Groeneveld and Thamina M.F.C. baroness Taets van Amerongen. She also was a professional paintress, but I know nothing about their career as painters. Fokko and Thamina left for Seattle in 1909, where he died in 1937; she died in 1938 in Holland. They had one daughter Thamina Marie Felicie Carolina (1899-1988); she married twice but had no children.
I hope this answers questions about Fokko Tadama.
-Mrs A.M. Dekker
Dear Mrs. A.M. Dekker
Thamina Groeneveld and Fokko Tadam had two children. 26 Nov. 1897 their son Jacob Nicolaas Tadama was born and 01 june 1899 their daughter Thamina Maria both in Egmond. Fokko Tadama and Thamina Groeneveld lived in Egmond the Netherlands till 1909 and were friends of George Hitchcock, American painter (1850-1913) and his wife Henriette. George Hitchcock had an Art School there (1890-1905). See my book ‘De Uitdaging van het licht’ about the Egmond Art colony. I also have a question. Thamina died in Zandvoort. Do you know where she was burried? Do you also know when her daughter died, where see was burried? and with whom she had a second marriage? Thank you. Dr. drs. Peter J.H. van den Berg. Egmond-Binnen.