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 Fokko Tadama  (1871 - 1937)

About: Fokko Tadama


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Lived/Active: Washington      Known for: Genre, portrait painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Fokko Tadama
1871 (Bandar, India)
1937 (Seattle, Washington)


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Genre, portrait painting

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San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Biography from Martin-Zambito Fine Art:

The following information was submitted in April of 2006 by David F. Martin:

Born in Bandar, India of Dutch parents, 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.

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