Maarten Platje

Born in Rotterdam in 1967

Since his youth, the Dutch landscape with its waterways and ships were subjects of his drawings and paintings. His hometown of Rotterdam and later a village near Den Helder (naval base) played an important role in this. His recognition as a talent followed soon. During an exhibition of marine painters in Den Helder, his entry was awarded a 1st prize. His first artistic training took place at the Leiden painting and drawing society Ars Aemulea Naturea (“art competes with nature”).

After graduating from high school, he sailed as a sailor on ships of the Royal Navy for 5 years. Undoubtedly, those years at sea further developed his talent for portraying the sea on canvas in all its manifestations. Meanwhile, his national fame grew and his paintings were regularly featured in various magazines and books.

In 1996, Platje was invited, as an ’embedded’ artist, to document international operations in the waters around former Yugoslavia on board a Dutch frigate. In the years that followed, Platje started to depict the great sailing voyages of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in his oil paintings.

Maarten has now built an extensive archive with which he can faithfully represent his subjects down to the smallest detail. Maarten is known for the careful study of his subjects. He divides his work process into various sections and uses old journals, drawings and models of ships. Maarten regularly makes a series of paintings with a specific theme, such as the American-English naval war at the beginning of the nineteenth century and the life of British admiral Horatio Nelson.

Awards and exhibitions by Maarten

In 2018 he won two awards during the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists in London.

Maarten Platje exhibited in Amsterdam, Den Helder, Rotterdam, Veere, Vlissingen, New York, Nantucket, Monaco and London.

Artist statement

My connection with ships goes back a long way. My father worked in the Navy and as a child I can still remember the harbour with large cruisers and destroyers with sharp bows. Years later, I served in the Navy for 5 years and sailed the oceans on frigates. I think I learned the art of looking there. Thanks to attentive observation, countless impressions have been left behind. I now reflect these impressions in my paintwork. Because you must have been there. You must have felt the swell of the sea and seen the colours of the sky and sea. Being on board a ship in bad weather on the North Atlantic simply puts things into a completely different perspective. You cannot gain these experiences behind an easel and I advise anyone who ventures into maritime painting to expose themselves for a period of time to the elements he or she portrays.

I think that a realistic elaboration in oil paint is the ideal medium to convey such experiences. I mainly paint maritime subjects in a historical context. A structural approach is then important. My goal is to find the right balance between artistic interpretation and historical correctness.