About Alfred Würth

Welcome to the website of Alfred Würth (Amsterdam 1924-2017 Haarlem).

This website is an overview of his life’s work.

Alfred Würth is best known as a figurative painter and draughtsman of landscapes, still life composition, portraits and nudes. He was professionally active for 63 years, 1942 until 2005. His style can be characterized as post-impressionism. He studied for some years at the M.T.S. for engineering and at the Graphic School in Amsterdam. He took drawing lessons at the studio of Jan Daniël Bout (1891-1965) As a painter he was extensively self-taught. In addition to drawing and painting, he has also given lectures in pottery. From the late 1970s he went to France on an annual basis, inspired by landscapes filled with olive trees and vineyards.

During the Great Depression (1929 to 1939) George opened his own restaurant

”The Munt Toren” (Mint Tower) in Amsterdam.

These were worrying years.

In 1930 George Würth lost his life when he fell down the stairs at the rear of his restaurant. His son Alfred was 6 years of age.

His mother, now without financial support, moved with her two children Alfred and daughter Tinie to Hilversum to lodge with her sister. Aleida was a skillful seamstress and started her own sewing school with a colleague. Unfortunately, this business venture did not succeed financially.

She returned to Amsterdam only with her daughter Tinie. This was because only one child was allowed in the new living space in Amsterdam.

Alfred stayed in Hilversum with his Aunt and Uncle who were childless.

He established a good bond with his Uncle but his Aunt was unable to feel love.

At the age of 16 Alfred returned to Amsterdam where he met Johanna Everdina de Boer (Hannie) (1924-2014) who became his future wife.

World war 2 had already started in The Netherlands

Alfred was still at school when he discovered his talent for drawing at the M.T.S. (Secondary Technical School)  and later The Graphic School. He realized at the age of 18 that he wanted to become an artist and express himself as a painter. He met the graphic artist and painter Jan Daniel (Daan) Bout (1891-1965) across the street with whom he then took drawing lessons. Daan Bout set high standards and insisted on the thourough knowledge of anatomy (this can be witnessed in various studies from Alfred).

He encouraged Alfred to try his hand at painting; This had a positive effect. Alfred recalled the moment when he showed him a new painting, called “Still life with jug” in oil paint. He had worked on it intensively to achieve what is called,“good material expression”. Bout looked at the work for a long time, and questioned, “Did you make that? After a further pause he said; “Then I can’t teach you anything anymore.” This recognition was important for Alfred to continue on the difficult path of a painter. Their immediate family did not support the uncertain future or lifestyle of an artistic profession.

The contact with Daan and his wife, Riek Bout continued for the length of their lives.

In 1944 Hannie and Alfred married. From this marriage 5 children were born: Marga (1944), Eva (1946-2010), Ineke (1947-2004), Wouter (1949) and Otto (1951).

As a consequence of five years of occupation by the Germans during the war, living conditions became impossible. In order to escape the hunger in Amsterdam, they walked with their first child Marga in the stroller to Friesland, in the North of The Netherlands. It was a risky venture. Alfred did not want to be seen by the German occupiers as he would be at risk of being taken to the factories in Germany. Hannie went by ferry across the river “Ijssel”. As a young woman with a child she was waved through the check points. Alfred had to swim across the river and was lucky he wasn’t noticed. In Friesland they found a paltry shelter in a barn.

When Alfred met Hannie (Johanna Everdina de Boer) in January 1941, both were 16 years old.

Together they immersed themselves in art, visited expositions by Jan Sluyters and went to concerts when they were able to. Hannie was intelligent, beautiful and joyful. She could move mountains and supported Alfred unconditionally. In his own words: “She was my wife, my friend and my Muse”. Hannie died in 2014.

In the year 1958 he was introduced to the aquarellist Marie (Riet) Dagnelie (1918-1984) and her then husband Karel Gomes (1930), the sculptor.

On the estate of the flower nursery in Amerongen, The Netherlands (which was managed by Riet Dagnelie’s family) Hannie and Alfred were invited to set up tents and camp with their 5 children for the holiday season.

Riet Dagnelie settled there permanently later in her life. An artist studio was built attached to the rear of a workman’s cottage.

The estate was located adjacent to a forest, the Amerongse Bos. This was a beautiful setting within the oldest forest in the hills of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug with a number of heritage protected tobacco drying sheds.

Alfred and Hannie stayed regularly in Riet’s studio when Riet went to France to paint. Many works from Alfred were created there.

In the early 1970s Alfred and Hannie were gifted an old lifeboat from Karel Gomes that was in need of refurbishment. They were happy with this new adventure and after refurbishment they took to the water to North-Holland, and at one time to South-Holland, Alfred painted there (from 1972 to about 1980).

At the invitation of Riet Dagnelie in 1966 they went to France and travelled in her car to explore and paint. They were introduced to the South of France, Vaison-la-Romaine in the Drôme. This started “The French Era” of Alfred Würth’s landscapes.

A dozen years later, Alfred and Hannie who did not own a car travelled by train to a rented apartment near Aouste-sur-Sye in the Drôme Valley. In 1981 they took another trip with Riet to Agen, Lot-et-Garonne.

From 1983 Alfred and Hannie – now with their own car – went to the south of France every year. In the vicinity of Mollans, he found the landscapes that fascinated him so much and put them on canvas.

Alfred Würth was a versatile artist, looking for his own style that could be characterized as post-impressionism.

Four themes always come back in his work: landscapes, still-life compositions, portraits and nudes.

Landscapes:

Paintings and drawings in the Netherlands, France and Australia. He worked in real time outside, in “Plein Air”, Hannie always accompanied him. She appears in many of his French landscapes.

Still-life compositions:

Subjects were always found in the house. Much was gathered for a still-life, even empty colourful bottles (see “Still-Life with Empty Bottles”).

Portraits:

Assignments and also free work: portraits of family and friends.

Nudes:

Models were worked with, but equally often his wife posed for him.

Ceramics:

(see collection of his own handmade ceramics).

In the 1970s and early 1980s he taught at the School of Artistic and Creative Education and at “Our House” in the Zaan region.

From 1976-1984 he was affiliated with the “BKR” which was an arrangement whereby artists were able to sell their works to the government. They purchased 87 of his paintings. Many of his works were displayed in public buildings.

Alfred Würth lived and worked fairly reclusively. He has exhibited several times in the Netherlands and France. The exhibition in Buis-les-Baronnies was titled: “Le Bonheur de Mollans” (“The Happiness of Mollans”) His oeuvre includes about 800 works.

Alfred was an artist who always experimented with color and contrast to achieve the required result: searching for what matters in the subject, while preserving the beauty of the moment. A constant battle with the limitations of the materials available.

The mixing of colors on his pallet, or the lack of color in the subject.

His goal was to share the experiences of often overwhelming sunlight and the beauty of the nature that captured him.

He didn’t want to paint “photos”, it had to stay within his rules for a painting.

He didn’t want to paint distorted images like many of his colleagues had done.

He didn’t want to paint what was good in the market: he thought it was “Kitsch”. This made life difficult financially.

He lived a rich life on an intellectual level. He listened a lot to classical music, read a lot, loved poems. Alfred needed no stimulants for inspiration. He could find beauty in his natural environment.

He was a sensitive man and vulnerable to criticism of his work (grounded or unfounded).

He was able to do almost everything except to commercialize his works.
Towards the end of his life, the family photographed and digitized as many of his works as possible to build an archive.

Alfred Würth has made many beautiful paintings, drawings and pottery in his life and deserves to be preserved and enjoyed. I am impressed with what he made.

I salute in admiration, Dad, well done!

Wouter, eldest son of Alfred Würth.