Peter Korver

Combining an academic background in Biology, History and Arts with over a decade of experience in interior design, Korver specializes in using historical and monumental interiors as his canvas. Ceilings and murals of intricately painted plants and animals, provide these monuments with a brand new historical context, or brush the dust off the existing one. . Gardensnails and Gecko’s, Seaturtles, giant Boa Constrictors, copulating Butterflies, and Birds gathering their nestmaterial, thus give new meaning to the concept of Natural History. . .


Growing up in the natural surroundings of Holland’s north-western coastal region, Peter Korver wanted to become a Biologist since the age of four. After a few Amsterdam university years however he decided to switch to History, combining this study with an education in the Arts. Today it seems all of this, together with over a decade of experience in interior design, has added up to a very personal specialty.

In recent years he has installed a new painted ceiling in the former British consulate of Amsterdam, one of Holland’s finest and best preserved 18th century interior monuments. Although his painting reintroduced the original 1731 love and goodbye scene of Dido and Aeneas that had been missing for over 120 years, its return seems to be temporary; the more than twenty painted birds Korver has added to the original scene are already taking it apart again by pulling threads and twines from the drawing, apparently for the use of nesting material elsewhere.

In a country estate elsewhere an eighteenth c. period room was embellished with spiraling ornamental leaves between the beams of its ceiling, populated with Garden snails, while yet another ceiling featured thousands of single handedly painted wheat ears,  couples of copulating butterflies and the prickly leaves of blue thistles. In an 18th c. apartment on the Amsterdam canals, a meandering Boa constrictor was painted on the walls of the entrance, measuring up to seven meters and part of a painted menagerie that occupied all but every room of the stylish modernist interior.

Last year Korver realized one of his largest ceilings up till now; In the boardroom of a Cees Dam designed office in ‘het Gooi’, sixty square meters of coffered ceiling were painted, an open grid revealing a sky filled with butterflies, dragonflies and a flock of colorful but insectivorous birds.

Recently one of Korver’s latest projects was finished behind the impressive Louis XVI façade of Amstedam’s Herengracht 40. Having served as both residence of Napoleon’s gouverneur to the Netherlands and later head-office for the corporate exploitation of the Dutch colonies in Indonesia, this 1790’s urban palazzo had an interesting history to say the least. Invited by its present owners, Korver’s paintings have changed the entrance into a gallery of aviaries with birds hanging around between historic memorabilia. Voluntarily, as it seems because the doors of their cages are wide open. What ensues is an encyclopedic collection depicting the splendor of the birds as well as the history of the house, but at the same time drawing an ambivalent image about the concept of freedom.


“. . I see the existing situation in a house as a point of reference. . my starting point, . not my limitation. . “ “. . I like working in houses. . . old houses too. . On a canvas anything is possible, but when working in a house there’s a formal and historical context . . .a problem. a question, the limitations of a given situation, the personal questions, affinities and expectations of clients . I find that whole process very stimulating . ” In recent years I found that a growing number of my clients not only think of their house as a commodity. . a possession. as something to live in comfortably. . but also think of themselves as passersby in the history of the house. . a history to which they consciously and responsibly want to add something . . . . . This makes the process even more interesting . . “


“. . Yes. .My works often take up quite a while to produce . . . But, as someone once said . “The intensity of the process of making something, makes up for a large part the presence and expression of the finished work. . . . . . I think that is quite true. . . ”


“. . When I was seven years old I was given an exercise book during religion class at school. On one of the pages was a picture of Jesus in which we were to add drawings of “friends that were listening”. After I had worked studiously the entire morning, I proudly presented my teacher with the finished result. She was surprised when she saw I had filled the entire page with pheasants, zebra’s, a goat, a whale, a shark, crows, caterpillars, butterflies, frogs and mosquitoes. Probably I still do the same to this very day. . .”


” . . I do not use just one style in painting. The style often seems to adjust itself a little to the project. People do recognize my work however. . . .they say it has quite an intense personal touch and approach. . . . and it’s almost always about animals of course, . . ”


“. . Since a couple of years I often use the computer. Adjusting grand scale compositions in the computer beforehand, saves a lot of time during the preliminary process and enables me to make quick changes in the approach of the design.
It’s just a technical design tool however, without a soul or a character.
Ultimately all the things I do should be intensely handmade in the first place. That’s where the life comes into the work.. .  Depth . . layers, feeling, energy. . . ”


“Yes . . I like nice shoes . . .You know what I like too ? . . Linings. . .  nicely hued silk or satin linings. You open up a coat or a jacket, and then there’s this great color inside. . . . ”


“. . I often use unexpected animals but I’m not interested in shock   …There has to be an itch though. That itch . .or a little confusing surprise at first sight . . . will probably leave you with a more interesting work in the long run. If it’s too comfortably recognized at first glance it will often turn out to be a bit boring in the end . Fortunately most of my clients have come to that same conclusion. .”


“. . .As a child I used to breed caterpillars. Our aviary would be a hotel for two enamored butterflies whom we allowed an overnight stay only. . When their eggs had hatched, I supplied them with as much twigs and leaves the aviary would allow. One morning the caterpillars had all disappeared beneath the sand. A few uneventful months passed quietly, until I walked outside one early summer evening and discovered our garden to be in full bloom with giant pink moths…”


“. . A lot of my works are done in the studio, not on site. . . It can be done on site too of course but It’s much more convenient for both us and the client not having me, or a whole team of painters, all over the house for weeks or longer.
And . . there is this final moment of installment. . That moment when a painting slides into the ceiling frame or is attached to the wall. . . the moment when you immediately feel the whole space come together. .  make a click. . I really like that. . “
That’s also why I often do a fair share of research into the house and its history, I don’t know how but at some level this too slips into the process of painting. . .I’m convinced that it enables a painting to blend in better into houses atmosphere. .”


“. I’m not so much interested in the difference between autonomous and decorative art. . I think the way most people deal with art is essentially decorative in the first place. . However; the moment you stop and focus on what you’re actually looking at . . then something really interesting has to happen. . time and again . . . ”
“Often people expect of a mural or a painted ceiling to be just that ;  something that in the first place is telling you it is a mural or a painted ceiling. In this way a lot of bad copies of old masterpieces and predictable Trompe-l’oeil’s are being made. .
I like to persuade my clients to be a little more adventurous… to end up with a work that actually says something for itself. . something more  ”