Jan 'Zoetelief' Tromp (1872-1947) was best known for his performances with children. These scenes are always idyllic and radiate the family happiness that he probably also knew. Because the painter was deaf and somewhat withdrawn, he preferred to take his own wife and children as models. He painted most in Blaricum and Katwijk. From 1899 he found inspiration in farm life in Blaricum. Recurring themes are children playing in the garden or walking along the corn or tulip field, digging up potatoes and feeding the bunnies. He 'discovered' Katwijk in 1905. At first he only spends the summers there with his family, but from 1914 he lives there permanently. Tromp paints the daily life of the fishermen and their children playing on the beach. He worked in the style of the Hague School, but with his own use of color and light in his paintings.
Jan Zoetelief Tromp was born in Batavia (Dutch East Indies) as Jan Tromp. As a thank you to his grandmother, he adds Zoetelief to his name. With the good guidance of his 'Grootje Zoet' - she took him to the Netherlands for a number of years when she discovered that he could not hear - he went to a school for the deaf and dumb in Rotterdam and learned sign language and lip reading there.
After the whole family returned to the Netherlands in 1886, Tromp studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague and then the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam. After graduating he seeks contact with painters from the Hague School and marries Maria Blommers, a daughter of Bernard Blommers. Although he studied at the academies of The Hague and Amsterdam and was a member of Pulchri Studio and Arti et Amicitiae, his role within social artist circles was relatively modest. He did exhibit, including at the Exhibitions of Living Masters, but not much. The fact that he was deaf probably played a part in him and he also preferred the seclusion and intimacy of his own family in his work.
Zoetelief Tromp was very popular with the buyers. People liked the happy, cheerful appearance of his paintings, his smooth brush and light use of color. He initially borrowed many of his themes from those of his father-in-law Bernardus Blommers. But gradually his paintings became lighter in tone and more expressive. Tromp also had great success abroad, especially in England, the United States and Canada. In the Netherlands, appreciation for his work has increased again in recent decades.