He was born in Hampstead, north London in 1928 and grew up the eldest son of two loving parents with two brothers and a sister. During the 1930s, the family moved from London to Bussum so that his father could take responsibility for the family art dealership in Amsterdam.
Despite the hardships leading up to and after the Second World War, the family business managed to survive.
Evert (Evert Sr as he later became known) began his career in the family gallery on the March 6, 1946, and was the sixth generation to do so. While studying art history he also developed his talents within the restoration department.
Many a great master painting has been restored by his accomplished hand. Indeed, he was held in high esteem at museums, and by fellow art dealers and collectors alike.
He took over running the family business from his father at the age of 27, in the hopes of breathing new life into it. His passion was predominantly the European Old Master paintings and drawings. However, he soon fell under the spell of the 19th century French paintings.
Evert Sr’s main strength lay in the sharing of his knowledge, with tremendous enthusiasm to anyone who cared to listen. He had a mind that was as creative as it was unlimited.
On Evert Sr’s 89th birthday, his grandson Evert-Anthony announced his desire to join the family business as the 8th generation
Nothing could escape his eye for detail and he regularly discovered signatures or monograms on paintings, even those of colleagues in his field. He was allowed to take many a detailed photograph at fairs, in museums or with collectors. From this grew the famous ‘slides archive’ of Douwes Fine Art, comprising 40,000 detailed slides.
When, in the early 1970s, the auction houses began to gain in strength, Evert Sr was the first to suggest that the art trade too, should be actively protected. Along with some like-minded colleagues, he put his words to action and in 1975, the international art fair in Maastricht was born, Pictura. It was biennial.
Some years later two fairs fused into one, Pictura and Antiqua, to join together and continue as The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in the new MECC building. The initiative of these pioneers led to the most prestigious art exhibition in the world and as co-founder, Evert Sr was chairman of the vetting committee for many years. Similarly, during the mid- 1980s, the national PAN fair was founded in Amsterdam.
Evert Sr had previously been chairman of the Delft Antiques Fair as well as an active board member of the then VHOK (Association of dealers in ancient art). He was also a member of the TMV (Valuation and Brokers Association) for 30 years where he laid the foundations for a professional approach to sitting exams in the field of art.
In recognition for all his professional and social achievements he was knighted into the Order of Orange Nassau.
In the 1970s, his son Evert Douwes Jr joined the family business as the 7th generation, reopening the gallery in London during this time. He has been running Douwes Fine Art for the past 25 years. And on Evert Sr’s 89th birthday, his grandson Evert-Anthony announced his desire to join the family business as the 8th generation.
There were suddenly three generations present for the first time in Douwes Fine Art’s 248-year-old history.
Evert Sr was always a devoted family man, viewing the family as the cornerstone of society. He leaves behind his cherished wife of 66 years, Nelleke Douwes-Huf, his four children and eight grandchildren. We are saddened but deeply grateful that we were able to enjoy such a dynamic family life for as long as we did with our ‘paterfamilias’. The man with the bowtie.