Renée Stotijn

Renée Stotijn in 1962.

Photo by: Jeroen Koning.
Renée Stotijn is born on February 7, 1940 in Hilversum, as the eldest daughter in a family of four children. Soon after her birth Renée’s parents move to the south of Amsterdam, and come to live behind the Concertgebouw (concert hall). It is a practical choice for the family, as her father, Haakon Stotijn, is appointed as a solo oboist in the Concertgebouw orchestra. Renée starts drawing at the age of five after receiving a book from her father on early renaissance Italian painting. She is fascinated by this art and memorizes all the painters. At this point already she has made up her mind; she will become a painter. Unfortunately, problems arise in the family and her parents divorce in 1952 when she is 12 years old. Renée is determined to leave with her father because of a difficult relationship between her mother and herself. Her younger sister Marion decides to go with Renee and her father. They wander across the city for years in search of accommodation. At this time Renée and Marion stay with various caretakers at different addresses. In 1957 Haakon and his two daughters eventually settle on the Weesperzijde in the east of Amsterdam.

Art Academy

After her graduation at the Montessori Lyceum, Renée Stotijn takes six years of intensive lessons at the Rijksacademie (art academy) in Amsterdam.



She takes various subjects such as letter drawing and costume drawing, art and style history, sculpting and anatomy. As an exceptionally talented student, Renée gets access to a ‘loge’.




That is a private studio at the top of the academy building. Because Renée wants to learn to paint decors, she works for one year in a decor studio and then six years as a restorer at the Central Laboratory of the Rijksmuseum.



At the same time, she is teaching and gives guided tours in the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, to both children and adults.



Dolls

Throughout her life Renée maintains a great passion for antique dolls. She has a small collection of dolls in her house in closed glass display cases. In 1970, an article about Renée's love for antique dolls with a number of remarkable photos was published in Panorama magazine.



The way in which Renée portrays the dolls is remarkable. It seems like the dolls have been given souls. Because of the facial expressions and the way in which the dolls are positioned, they almost resemble people in a lively scene: busy conversing, pondering or enthusiastic. It remains unclear where her love for dolls comes from. Perhaps it stems from a longing in her childhood. Be that as it may, it is a subject that she portrays many times in different ways.



Article

‘De Poppewereld van Renée Stotijn’ (The Doll World of Renée Stotijn). Panorama 1970.

Amsterdam

Although born in Hilversum, Renée Stotijn is an ‘Amsterdammer’ in heart and soul. She loves the city very much and also fights for the preservation of her ‘Mokum.’



She organizes neighbourhood campaigns and writes appeals against, among other things, the demolition of the Eerste Oosterparkstraat and a part of the Weesperzijde, which is known as 'het Streekje'./p>


Thanks to her, houses that would be demolished are actually restored in modern style. Renée's greatest victory is the preservation of the New Amstel Bridge by the architects Leguyt and Berlage.



Thanks to her, the bridge continues to exist and is not replaced by a modern variant. Her love for the nineteenth century is immense



Landscapes and village scenes

Renée goes out every now and then to visit other cities and landscapes in the Netherlands. In the open air she mainly paints watercolours. She is fond of the colours and light of the Dutch landscape, which she tries to capture in a rich colour palette.



She adores Durgerdam and Marken and has a fascination for the traditional costumes from those villages. She also visits abroad. France and Italy are very dear to her and were a source of inspiration. However, due to a lack of financial resources, she does not manage to go there often, at least not as often as she would have liked.



Still lives

Renée makes countless still lives from objects in her own home such as vases, fans and hats. She often places these objects on a wooden table. One such table is the one that she received from acquaintances from Schoorl. Flowers are her favourite subject. She paints and draws flowers of all shapes and sizes with different materials. This subject will continue to play a major role in her oeuvre until the end of her life.



Remarkable are Renée's often dynamic compositions and rich use of colour. There always seems to be movement in the works. Her still lives are anything but static.



Relationship and posters

Starting in the 1970s, Renée has a relationship with violinist and concertmaster Dick Bor (1944-2007). Together they form a well-known artistic couple and they are the first couple who have a LAT (living apart together) relationship in the Netherlands. This means that they deliberately do not live together and are not married. They do have two daughters together. Several articles appear about this in the newspaper, which also discusses their artistic projects



In 1978 Dick and Renée organize a concert series in the Concertgebouw with the name ‘Scherts Concerts’ in which Dick presents jokes and oddities on stage together with Polo de Haas and other musicians. In combination with the concerts, an exhibition of Renée's work takes place in the Spiegelzaal of the Concertgebouw. Renée then exhibits her work a few more times, including in 1994 in the artists' society De Kring.



Renée designs the posters for Dick's concerts. She does this in an old-fashioned way in collaboration with Gielijn (Ghislain) Escher. During this collaboration Renée creates the design and Escher cuts the letters. Subsequently, the posters are screen printed.


Photo’s Renée Stotijn and Dick Bor


Photo’s exhibition and concert Spiegelzaal - Concertgebouw


Articles Dick Bor and Renée Stotijn


Portraits

The greatest discovery in Renée's house are the countless portraits she painted, most of them with oil paint. Nobody, knew about the portraits, or could imagine the vast amount. The artworks have spent decades laying in the tops of cabinets in the kitchen. They lay between double ceilings and in cavities within the wall that turned out to be several meters deep. When closets were emptied by her daughters, they found one surprise after another. It was as if a treasure had been discovered.



It is very likely that Renée made these portraits at the Rijksacademie. In one of the few interviews she gives, she refers to the portraits she painted in the ‘loge’ that was assigned to her. Here she had all the materials available. Who the models are ultimately remains a guess, just like the answers to many other questions about the how, what, where and when with regard to her artworks. These answers are left up to the imagination.




Later work

There is an unfortunate event in Renée's life that causes a change: she gets sick. In 1972, at the age of 32, she is diagnosed with breast cancer. She has surgery, but afterwards she is in so much pain that she is unable to use her arm, let alone paint, for a long time. This is a nightmare for Renée.



After a while she tries to pick it up again, and makes drawings, pastels and watercolours, though at an admittedly slower pace than before. Due to the hard labour and process required to create an oil painting, she is no longer able to make them. Her style is clearly recognizable in her newer works.


In the period after the operation, Renée mainly works on subjects she loves. In France at ‘the Bastide’ she creates watercolours of the area. She is also frequently engaged in watercolours of peonies, especially in the last years of her life. Finally, she portrays her grandchildren with much love and is often inspired by the works of Peter Paul Rubens.


Artworks