Willy Sluiter, born in 1873, grew up in a wealthy notary family in Zwijndrecht, where he moved from Friesland when he was ten. He was a student at the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam and later that in The Hague. At the beginning of his artistic career he lived and worked in Dordrecht and Rotterdam. Sluiter - a real company person - was a member of various art societies, the Dordrecht Pictura, the Pulchri Studio in The Hague and later Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam.
The cheerful, amiable Sluiter had two distinct talents. First of all, he was a race artist. Friends and family were captured in clean, smooth sketches and watercolors. In the drawings he made in Scheveningen and, for example, of the well-to-do winter sports tourists in Davos and St. Moritz, he showed himself to be a chronicler of his time. He typifies sharply and in a humorous and loving way he exposes human weaknesses. Besides capturing people he met in his own environment, he also had a feeling for the illustrative in book covers, posters and other advertising work. For almost his entire life, Sluiter has illustrated books, and cartoons for magazines in a cartoonish way, with humor and style. He belonged to the group of innovators in this genre that was characterized by a smooth style of working with dynamic images. Besides Piet van der Hem and Jan Sluijters, Sluiter was one of the artists who would make a name for themselves between 1910 and 1930 as illustrators for novels, children's books and journalistic collections.
In addition, Sluiter was an excellent painter, with a feeling for the local atmosphere of the Dutch fishing villages of which he depicts the characteristic life. Working people are often the central theme. The influence of the Hague School and the Amsterdam Impressionists can be seen in his early landscapes and seascapes, especially in the use of color and his brushwork. In later years his work shows great stylistic versatility.
At the turn of the century, Sluiter settled in Katwijk. Meanwhile engaged to Agathe van Nievervaart, he had his own design built villa 'Honk', where they moved in immediately after their wedding. Their house became a sweet raid for the growing group of artists, including foreigners, who settled in Katwijk in the summer. They came because Scheveningen became increasingly fashionable and the traditional fishing from the beach disappeared due to the construction of the harbor. In Katwijk it was still possible to draw beach and seascapes from life. Sluiter painted the traditional fishing life with bomb barges, shell carts, draft horses and fishermen and portrayed many locals. His palette became lighter and more colorful than in his early days and under the influence of the German painter Hans Von Bartels, who had also moved to Katwijk, his painting style became more powerful and expressive. Sluiter was a highly valued resident because of his social commitment to the cultural life in the village - the increasing tourism was artistically propagated by him - and in 1908 he founded the Kunstvereeniging Katwijk with the artist Fokko Tadema. At the same time, Sluiter also developed as a poster designer, including for the Dutch Railways. He developed his own style in which the figures - depicted with a good dose of humor - were drawn in solid black contours and filled in with fresh colors.
The poor health of daughter Jopie - the only child of Sluiter and Agathe - and the disappearance of traditional fishing life played a role in the family's relocation in 1910 to Laren, which had built up a reputation as an artists' village in the nineteenth century. There, Sluiter again designed and built his own house, 'Rust rust', and immersed himself in cultural life, with Hotel Hamdorff as the centerpiece. However, Volendam and not Laren were the main inspiration for Sluiter in these years. He visited the quaint fishing village regularly, where, in addition to the fishing life, he enjoyed the parties and fairs that took place even more. He was also a welcome guest at Hotel Spaander, where the foreign artists who stayed in Volendam for a short or longer period came together.
In 1916 the Sluiter family moved to The Hague. A new period began for the now successful painter. After Katwijk and Laren, Sluiter wanted to be 'in the middle of life' again with his many friends in The Hague, where he had been a member of Pulchri Studio since the 1990s. He met old acquaintances such as the painter Blommers and the sculptor Charles van Wijk, whom he had previously met in the painting village of Heeze. It was easy for Sluiter to find work in The Hague. He was already well known as a portraitist and he also had an established name as an illustrator and designer. The mundane life in The Hague got a hold on Sluiter, the leisure activities of The Hague society become the subject of his paintings and drawings. Beach entertainment and strolling along the Scheveningen boulevard take the place of the fishing life that previously appealed to him in Katwijk.
Many awards were received at Sluiter, at home and abroad. His good name and fame also reached the royal house, where, unlike his contemporary Piet van der Hem, he did not receive official commissions for state portraits of the Royal family, but did immortalize several members on several occasions. He won prizes at international exhibitions and in Canada in particular he exhibited and sold many large ones paintings from his time in Katwijk.