Tanja Möderscheim, Dutch fine artist in London


Traditional paintings: 17th C style, technique and pigments

I’m a Dutch fine artist in Isleworth by the Thames and I specialise in still life paintings. I celebrate and explore cultural heritage and in particular that of the 17th century Dutch Golden Age. Light and how it touches the subject is an important focus in my paintings.

I stay true to this period by only using 17th century techniques and pigments. Setting the paintings in bespoke 17th C Dutch replica frames, 17th C-style frames or hand-selected antique period frames, allows me to produce fine still life paintings.

As typical subjects of the 17th century, I paint my heritage tulip cultivars collection, Delft Blueware, birds, and fruit and produce. I source the bulbs from experts on tulip conservation in Holland. As I cultivate these in my garden I have an extensive collection of heritage cultivars to paint, with the oldest tulips dating back to the late 16th century. In 2019 my work on tulips was warmly welcomed by the Society of Botanical Artists, of which I’m now a fellow member (Exhibiting Excellence Award 2021). My paintings of Delftware portray antique pieces in my own and museum collections.

My attention to detail and anatomy, nurtured by my background in the biological sciences (MSc, PhD), is a nod to the renewed interest in naturalism and science in the 1600s.

Values I adhere to and express in my work: elegance and refinement, heritage and tradition, authenticity and beauty.

Fruit and produce

I explore culinary tradition through paintings of fruit and produce, including British and French artisans’ food produce celebrating their role in local communities. The latter led to a collaboration with the BBC Food and Farming Awards in 2016 and paintings of produce grown by members of the Collège Culinaire de France in 2019. My paintings of Roman tableware finds are also part of the theme of heritage and tradition. I love painting fruit – perhaps my first love.

Exhibitions and events

I exhibit regularly in between painting commissioned/bespoke pieces. Selected exhibitions and events include the Mall Galleries (RBA, SWA, SBA) and the Royal Horticultural Society. I also give lectures.

Inspiration: Dutch Masters active during the 17th Century: first half of the 17th-Century Golden Age, including those working in the “ontbijt” or “breakfast” genre – handling of light, e.g., Pieter Claesz., Van Elst, Beert, Flegel (German). Flower and other painters throughout the 17th Century: Bosschaert, Van der Ast, Mignon, Van Aelst, Ruysch, Savery. Spanish painters: Zurbarán, Cotan, Yepes, Meléndez.

Technique: classical painting technique involving grounding, dead-colouring, working up and glazing. Paintings on fine linen, poplar panels, silver and 22ct gold.

Palette: only pigments available to the 17th C painter: lead white, ceruse, lead-tin yellow, stil de grain/schietgeel, vermillion, madder lake, lapis lazuli, blue verditer, azurite, smalt, malachite, green earth, ochres, sienas, umbers, Cassel earth, and bone black. The pigments are used in line with comments published in 17th C Dutch manuscripts and modern academic literature.

Composition: expressing a sense of stillness, beauty, elegance and refinement.

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Tanja Möderscheim

Painting lemons in J.M.W Turner’s House in Twickenham, before the renovation (October 2015)