Jan Rijlaarsdam was born March 2, 1911, in Nieuwkoop, Netherlands. He was the oldest of five children raised on the family farm. Although his family, hoped he would become a teacher, his interests were in art. In 1928 at the age of 17, he made his first study abroad trip to Germany and Belgium. He apprenticed with a framer which increased his desire to become an artist. In 1932, he earned a Royal Grant which provided him with the opportunity to study under the direction of Hulsholl Pol at Hilversum. He also met painters from Laren, an artist’s community, who encouraged his artistic development.
Riljaarsdam was mostly self-taught as a painter. He spent considerable time in France, where learned to paint with a palette knife which became a distinctive characteristic of his style. He also was known for his use of subdued colors with black and white contrasts. Riljaaarsdam was a member of St. Lucas, an art society in Amsterdam, the Gooise Art Society and the Society of Figurative Art in Hilversum. He died February 16, 2007, in Baarn, Netherlands.
Paintings by Rijlaarsdam were exhibited in the Netherlands as well as in New York and Chicago. His works are represented in many public and private collections in the United States and Europe. Museums in the Netherlands and Germany have acquired his paintings.
The street scene of “France” by Rijlaarsdam in the Fine Arts Collection was donated by William Heintz in 1997 and is part of the William Heintz Collection.