Artist Adamson-Eric

Adamson-Eric was born on Aug 18, 1902 (Gregorian calendar) in Tartu as the fourth child of a draper Jaan Adamson and his wife Anna. He was christened by the name of Erich Karl Hugo Adamson. He received his primary school education at home and at Kooritse Primary School.


  • Studied at Alexander I Gymnasium in Tartu.


  • Studied at Hugo Treffner Gymnasium in Tartu, but did not graduate.


  • Attended lectures at Tartu University, Faculty of Law, as an auditor-student. He was also enrolled for the courses at “Pallas” art school.


  • Studied at Charlottenburg School of Applied Art and Handicrafts in Berlin under Prof. Harold Bengen.


  • Studied art in several art schools in Paris: F. Colarossi Academy (under Bernhard Naudin, Charles Guérin), P. Ranson Academy (under Roger Bissière and Georges Braque), Montparnasse Academy (under Andrè Lhote and Moïse Kisling), Vassili Shukhayev Academy


  • Exhibited his paintings in Tallinn at II Exhibition of Estonian Art (Sept 15 – Oct 15). Exhibited two paintings in Berlin at “Novembergruppe” non-juried exhibition.
  • A study tour to Italy. Travelled from Genova to Naples, also stayed on Capri.


  • Was invited by Jaan Koort to show his works at the exhibition of the Estonian Artists’ Union in Tallinn together with Nikolai Triik.
  • Toured in Finland in autumn.


  • Joined the Estonian Society of Figurative Artists (EKKKÜ) (member until 1936).
  • Displayed his works at major exhibitions in Paris in Autumn Salon (Salon des Automne), Independent Salon (Salon des Independants) and Tuileries Salon (Salon des Tuileries).


  • Displayed his works in Paris in the salons mentioned above.


  • In May displayed his works in Blomqvist Gallery in Oslo together with Kristjan Teder and Eduard Wiiralt at the exhibition of the “Group of Estonian Artists in Paris”.
  • June 29–July 12 a group exhibition of Adamson-Eric, Kristjan Teder and Eduard Wiiralt at 22 Vene Street in Tallinn. The same exhibition was organised in Pärnu, Anton Starkopf joined the group there.


  • An exhibition of Estonian art in Helsinki (Feb 9 – March 3).
  • The State of Finland bought “Portrait of Siuts Barbarus” (1928) for their Ateneum collection.
  • A trip to the Soviet Union, visiting art collections in Moscow and Leningrad.
  • An exhibition of Estonian art in Lubeck (Apr 2 – 23).
  • An exhibition of Estonian art in Paris (May 4 – 18). Adamson-Eric was one of the organizers of the exhibition and also displayed his works of art. His “Portrait of the Artist’s Father” (1928) was purchased for Jeu de Paume Museum in Luxembourg, nowadays belongs to Pompidou Centre in Paris.
  • His works were shown at exhibitions of Estonian art in Kiel (Aug 15 – Sept 20), in Königsberg (Oct 6 – Nov 3)
  • Travelled in Europe. Stayed in Warsaw and Krakow in Poland, then in Vienna in Austria and finally Zurich, then went back to Paris.
  • One-man exhibition in the Art Museum of Estonia in Tallinn (Nov 24, 1929 – Jan 7, 1930): there were 17 works at the exhibition (oil paintings, also textiles which were woven in Tallinn Vocational School for Women).
  • Spent half a year in Paris as a grantholder of the Board of the Figurative Art Foundation.


  • Exhibition in “Pallas” art school in Tartu, 2 Karlova Str (March 3 – 23) with Kristjan Teder (there were 39 oil paintings by Adamson-Eric at the exhibition).
  • Spent half a year in Paris as a grantholder of the Board of the Figurative Art Foundation.
  • His works were displayed at the exhibitions of Estonian art in Berlin (Jan 4 – 19), in Cologne (March 15 –30) and in Copenhagen (May 10 – 25).


  • Toured in the Pyrenees. Stayed in Basque Country in the village of St. Jean Pied du Port.
  • Left for Spain in autumn. Stayed in Majorca for the winter.


  • In spring a tour in Spain, visiting several art centres and museums.
  • After coming back to Estonia he lived mostly in Tallinn. He represented the Estonian Society of Figurative Artists (EKKKÜ) at the Board of the Figurative Art Foundation, member of the board of the foundation and vice-chairman 1932 – 1935.


  • Travelled through Central Europe to Greece in late autumn, stayed in Athens until the end of May 1934. Composed a large series of paintings and drawings of views of Athens, landscapes and royal bodyguards.


  • Returned from Greece in early summer, went to South Estonia, painted Puka landscapes in Komsi farm, which belonged to his mother.
  • The opening exhibition of Tallinn Art Hall (Sept 15 – Oct 8).
  • Adamson-Eric got a studio in the new Tallinn Art Hall and also had a one-man exhibition there – the so-called studio-manifestation, where he displayed his paintings composed in Greece.


  • Vice-chairman of the Estonian Society of Figurative Artists (EKKKÜ) and vice-chairman of the Club of Figurative Artists.
  • An amendment was made to the statute of the Board of the Figurative Art Foundation of the Estonian Culture Foundation. According to this amendment the organisation was not to be elected by art organizations as it had been earlier.


  • Exhibition of Estonian art in Moscow. Adamson-Eric was the commissary of the exhibition. His “Portrait of the Artist’s Father” II (1930 – 1932) was purchased for the collection of New Western Art Museum in Moscow. It was given to the Art Museum of Estonia in 1971 (EKM M 4448).


  • Member of the Union of Applied Art (RaKü).


  • Married Mari Adamson in Tallinn.
  • One-man exhibition in Strindberg Gallery in Helsinki (Oct 24 – Nov 4). The exhibition displayed 42 works created from 1929 to 1936. A catalogue was published (prefaces by Ludvig Wennervirta, lecturer at Helsinki University, and Prof. Sten Karling, Tartu University).


  • Paris World Exhibition was opened on May 26, the Baltic Pavilion on June 17. Adamson-Eric received two diplomas (Diplômes d’honneur) for his carpets, porcelain and ceramics. He also participated in designing the exhibition.


  • One-man show in Tallinn Art Hall (Feb 12 – 20). 148 works on display. A catalogue was published (preface by Prof. Sten Karling, Tartu University).
  • Received an award for his leatherwork at the international exhibition of applied art in Berlin. A trip to Finland: in Klippula painted several compositions, landscapes and nudes.
  • According to the Business Licence Act the artists had to be registered and the registration licence could be obtained on the basis of the diplomas of educational institutions. Adamson-Eric, Ants Laikmaa, Kristjan Raud, Karl Pärsimägi, Eduard Wiiralt and several other well-known artists were not able to obtain the registration licence.


  • One-man exhibition in Stockholm House of Artists (Stockholm Konstnärshuset, May 6 – 18). 64 pieces of art were on display: paintings, textile, porcelain, leatherwork.
  • A catalogue was published (preface by Prof. Sten Karling, Tartu University).
  • Exhibited his paintings at the exhibition of Estonian art in Rome (Feb 18 – 28), in Budapest (March 24 – Apr 10), in Antwerp (May 20 – June 7)
  • At the exhibition in Antwerp the painting “Estonian Girl” was purchased.
  • An exhibition of paintings in Tallinn Art Hall (Sept 8 – 18) – the so-called exhibition of six artists – Adamson-Eric, Aleksander Bergman-Vardi, Jaan Grüünberg, Kaarel Liimand, Karl Pärsimägi, Kristjan Teder.


  • The same exhibition in Tartu (Jan 21 – Feb 5).
  • In June the Soviets seized power in Estonia. A new government was formed – Prime Minister J. Vares-Barbarus, Minister of Education J. Semper, etc.
  • At the beginning of July an organising committee of the Soviet artists’ union was elected, which included representatives from both Tallinn and South-Estonia.
  • The Tallinn group comprised Adamson-Eric (secretary), Johannes Greenberg, Voldemar Mellik, Richard Sagrits and Ferdi Sannamees, the members of the Tartu group were Aleksander Bergman-Vardi, Ernst Jõesaar, Arkadi Laigo, Juhan Nõmmik and Kaarel Liimand.


  • Evacuated to the area behind the front line in the Soviet Union.


  • Secretary of the Organising Committee of the Artists’ Association of the Estonian SSR, 1942 – 1943 chairman.


  • Artist-in-chief of the State Art Ensembles of the Estonian SSR in Kuibyshev.


  • Nominated Merited Artist of the Estonian SSR. Participated in orgnising the exhibition dedicated to the 600th anniversary of the Uprising of St George’s Night in Moscow (together with Hans Kruus and several others).


  • Chairman of the Artists’ Association of the Estonian SSR.


  • Took an active part in establishing the Centre of Applied Art, which was the predecessor of the Applied Art Workshop ARS.


  • Rector of the Tallinn State Applied Art Institute.


  • Became a professor.


  • Soviet Estonia Award.

1949 Apr 25-26

  • The so-called artists’ meeting. Adamson-Eric made a long and extensive presentation (23 pages), in which he analysed his work and art and which was full of self-criticism. It was followed by several speeches by the members of the Estonian Communist Party (Kaarel Ird, Priidu Aavik, Lilli Promet, etc.). In the resolution of the meeting he was accused of formalism.
  • According to the decree number 236 of the Art Directory of the Estonian SSR of Sept 12, 1949 Adamson-Eric was forced to resign from the office of the Rector of the Tallinn State Applied Art Institute. F. Leht was appointed as the new rector of the Institute. The members of the commission were E. Kuusik, I. Leesment, V. Haas, P. Luhtein, B. Lukats, E. Vaino, A. Margevitsh, J. Liigman. The renomination was effective since Sept 20, 1949.


  • 8th plenary session of the Communist Party of Estonia. Adamson-Eric was expelled from the Artists’ Union of the Estonian SSR and as well as from the Estonian Communist Party.


  • Worked in footwear factory “Kommunaar” as a regular blue collar worker.


  • Professor at the State Art Institute of the Estonian SSR, first at the chair of composition, then at the chair of leatherwork.


  • Suffered from a serious heart attack followed by apoplexy, which resulted in the paralysis of the right side of the body.


  • As a result of serious efforts managed to start painting again, now using his left hand. Spent most of his summers in Lohusalu, which was a good holiday and health resort and well suited for art and creativity.


  • One-man exhibition in Tallinn Art Hall (in August) and in Moscow (in September). Exhibited more than 900 works, a catalogue was published (compiled by Vilma Reinholm, preface by Leo Soonpää).


  • One-man exhibition in the Art Museum of Tartu (November – December), more than 500 works were exhibited. A catalogue was published (preface by Maire Toom).


  • An extensive one-man exhibition in Kaunas.

Adamson-Eric died on Dec 2 of heart attack, he is buried at Metsakalmistu.