Renée Stotijn

Renée Stotijn in 1962

Photos: Jeroen Koning
Renée Stotijn is born on February 7, 1940 in Hilversum. After her birth Renée’s parents move to Amsterdam, right behind the Concertgebouw. It is a practical choice, 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 on 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. Renée is determined to leave with her father and her younger sister Marion decides to go with them. In 1957 Haakon and his two daughters 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 Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. She is taught by Gé Röling, Otto B. De Kat and Sierk Schröder, amongst others.

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 her own ‘loge’.

The loge is a private studio at the top of the academy, where she creates various works and gradually develops her own style. 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.


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 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. It is a subject that she portrays many times in different ways.


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


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'.

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


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 these villages. She also visits abroad. France and Italy are dear to her and were a source of inspiration. 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. Flowers are her favourite subject. She paints and draws flowers 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

Renée has a relationship with violinist and concertmaster Dick Bor (1944-2007). Together they form a well-known artistic couple. They are the first couple who have a LAT (living apart together) relationship in the Netherlands; they deliberately live in separate houses and they are not married. They are raising two daughters together: Esmee and Zaphira. Several articles about the couple appear in the newspapers.

In 1978 Dick and Renée organize the so called ‘Scherts Concerts’ in the Concertgebouw with Polo de Haas and other musicians. In combination with these amusing concerts, an exhibition of Renée's work takes place in the Spiegelzaal.

Renée designs the posters for Dick's concerts in collaboration with Gielijn (Ghislain) Escher. During their collaboration Renée creates the design and Escher cuts the letters in a traditional way.

Renée Stotijn and Dick Bor

Exhibition Het Concertgebouw



The greatest discovery in Renée's house are the countless portraits she painted, most of them with oil paint. 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 her daughters emptied the closets, this discovery took them - by surprise. It was as if a treasure had been discovered.

It is very likely that Renée made the 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. Who the models are ultimately remains a guess, just like the answers to many other questions regarding her artworks.

Later work

There is an unfortunate event in Renée's life that causes a change. In 1972, at the age of 32, she is diagnosed with breast cancer. After the surgery 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 again. 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 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 and is often inspired by the works of Peter Paul Rubens.