Pieter Adolfs was born on 2 January 1898 in Semarang, Central Java. He
spent his youth in Java and received at home his first artistic
inspirations. His father, Gerardus Cornelis Adolfs, was an architect and
a versatile amateur (painter, photographer, piano and violin player as
well as a pole vaulter).
Adolfs studied architecture in Amsterdam. After graduating, he was drawn
back to Java, were he designed
houses in Yogyakarta, Solo and Surabaya. But soon he swapped the drawing
pen for the dry-point, pencil and brush and from then on dedicated his
whole life to painting.
was already well-known as a talented advertising illustrator, when in
1924 he was first introduced to the public of Yogyakarta as a painter,
water-colourist and graphic artist.
year Adolfs travelled for a few months, leaving his family in Surabaya.
He had studios
in Florence, Rome, Vienna, Budapest, Prag and (together with his
Japanese friend Fujita) in Paris and exhibited his works of art
Japan, Singapore, USA,
Holland, Sweden, Norway, France,
. . .)
The main subjects of his work were scenes of Java, Bali, Japan and of
sceneries, cock-fights, landscapes and townscapes) .
1940 - shortly before the occupation of Holland - Adolfs came
back to Europe
and settled in Amsterdam.
22 February 1944, during an exhibition at the Kunstzaal
the largest part of Adolfs‘ paintings was destroyed
by the bombardment of Nijmegen. But Adolfs kept on working. He wrote and
illustrated a book about his
memories of Surabaya
in a lot of well-known galleries. He lived mostly in Amsterdam -
interrupted by longer stays in Scandinavia, France, Spain, Italy and
In 1967 he
retired to a small village in South-Holland. On
Adolfs died in
s'Hertogenbosch - Holland.