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Gerard 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.

He 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.

Each 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 internationally (Netherlands Indies, Japan, Singapore, USA, England, Holland, Sweden, Norway, France, Switzerland . . .)
The main subjects of his work were scenes of Java, Bali, Japan and of North Africa
(market sceneries, cock-fights, landscapes and townscapes) .
In 1940 - shortly before the occupation of Holland - Adolfs came back to Europe and settled in Amsterdam.

On 22 February 1944, during an exhibition at the Kunstzaal Pollmann, 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 and exhibited in a lot of well-known galleries. He lived mostly in Amsterdam - interrupted by longer stays in Scandinavia, France, Spain, Italy and North Africa.
In 1967
he retired to a small village in South-Holland. On 1 February 1968, G.P. Adolfs died in s'Hertogenbosch - Holland.