Considered among the leading figures in the 20th-century enameling field, Karl Drerup (1904 – 2000) moved to this country in 1937 with his wife Gertrude to escape Nazi-occupied Europe. Born in Boghorst, Westphalia, in the northwest region of Germany, Drerup studied painting in Munster and Berlin as well as at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. It was only after his arrival in this country that he took up enameling. Although he pursued oil painting, drawing, and occasionally ceramics throughout his life, enameling became his preferred form of expression.
While the Drerups first settled on Long Island where the artist found a job teaching at Adelphi University, they subsequently moved to a more rural region of northern New Hampshire. They found themselves more at home in this pastoral setting which was somewhat reminiscent of the wooded landscape where Drerup spent his youth. Drerup's reverence for nature – his love of its intimate details as well as its awe-inspiring expanses – is apparent in much of the work he produced throughout his life.
Drerup's enamels were featured in numerous exhibitions across the country as he emerged as one of the most influential artists working in the enameling field. The Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased a piece in 1940 and in 1941 he was featured in a nationally-touring one-person exhibition. In 1959, Drerup's work was presented in depth in the seminal exhibition Enamels
at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in New York.
Known for his generous spirit and his humility, the artist once observed: "I appreciate knowing when someone can derive joy from the long hours which I spend making these little dreams out of glass and metal."