Otto Eerelman, born in Groningen in 1839, started out as a painter of Old Dutch interiors and genre pieces, but gradually established his reputation as a painter of horses: horses in the meadow, in front of the carriage, sjees or sleigh, and in the circus. Also famous are his paintings of Wilhelmina, depicted as a princess with her pony 'Baby' and as a queen as an Amazon. In his later work, in the early 1980s, he paints almost exclusively dog portraits or young dogs. Eerelman mainly owed his popularity to the fact that dogs and especially horses were very popular with the people of Groningen. Journalist and writer Ab Visser once wrote about the painter: 'His popularity was so great that we as children thought that he came as an artist immediately after Rembrandt, only to discover at an older age that people could work so well outside the Herepoort. if I hadn't heard of him anywhere.” The anatomy of the animals in Eerelman's paintings is lifelike and the furs are 'cuddly' captured on the canvas. Eerelman is the first Dutch artist to raise the specialism of animal portraits, a popular and lucrative genre in Europe in the second half of the 19th century, to a high level.
After completing primary school, his parents make Eerelman to work, but he chooses a life as an artist against the wishes of his parents. He begins his studies at the Minerva Academy in Groningen in 1860, where he receives drawing and painting lessons from Johannes Egenberger. This teaches him to make large compositions and small, quick studies of life. In 1864 he continued his studies for another year at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he also worked for a while in the studio of Lourens Alma Tadema, who taught him the tricks of classical painting. After a short time in Paris, Eerelman returns to Groningen and in 1867 gets a job as a teacher at the Minerva Academy. In addition to his work as a teacher, the painter gets busy making portraits. Many people from Groningen visit the Visserstraat where Eerelman lives to be immortalized by him. There he also met Anna Frederica Braak, whom he married in 1870. Because Eerelman receives more and more assignments, he resigns from Minerva and the couple moves to Brussels in 1874. That stay is short-lived, a year later the Eerelmannen settle in The Hague, where they will live for more than 25 years. There Eerelman discovers where his talent lies and he specializes as a painter of horses, which he depicts in all kinds of scenes, with carriages, sleds, but also in the circus. Later he also paints dogs in all kinds of everyday scenes. Due to the success of his animal portraits, he is also popular with the Royal House and in 1880 he is commissioned to capture the youth of Princess Wilhelmina. During this time he also befriends Hendrik Willem Mesdag and Jozef Israëls, with whom he is part of the cultural life of The Hague, among other things, and he is successful with the sale of his work.
In 1902 Eerelman and his wife moved to the South Veluwe on the advice of their GP, where they settled in Arnhem. But after it is established that the Zuid-Veluwe is not as beneficial as predicted, Eerelman suffers from rheumatism, Otto and Anna return to Groningen in 1907, to a house built for them at Hereweg 26. There, Eerelman receives Pictura from Kunstgenootschap Pictura. in 1919 he was commissioned to make a large painting in honor of the relief of Groningen on 28 August 1672. He was free to choose the subject, but a Groningen scene was naturally preferred. Eerelman opts for one of the traditional annual festivities of the Groningen Relief. Since 1857, a peerdespul' has been taking place in Groningen: harness racing and horse inspections. So it will be 'The Horse Inspection on the Grote Markt on the 28th of August'. In the painting, Eerelman depicts several living and dead Groningen residents who meant a lot to equestrian sport. Not only does he allow himself freedom in portraying people, but he also changes the background and paints a number of facades of the north and east sides of the Grote Markt 'back in time'. When the painting is finished, it will be exhibited for two days in front of a café on the Grote Markt before it is moved to the wedding room of the Groningen city hall. The Provinciale Courant writes on March 30, 1920: 'From morning to evening it is packed... and new people keep coming to see and admire the work of art.' The painting became a symbol of Groningen and the Groningen language.
In the years that followed, Eerelman increasingly suffered from 'rheumatic nerve pain' and avoided public life. However, he still makes still lifes and dog portraits for raffles for charities, which means that he remains extremely popular.
Eerelman dies six years after completing his assignment for the city of Groningen, his wife preceded him in 1921. The couple had no children and after his death his inventory and the many paintings he still owns will be auctioned.