The interests and studies of Sam Segal include three subjects: botany and plant ecology, still life painting and philosophy.
Sam Segal majored in Biology and Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. His thesis, entitled Ecology of Wall vegetation, was published in 1969 (trade edition reprinted 1973). He founded and guided the Department of Botanical Ecology at the University of Amsterdam from 1960 to 1975, and also took the lectures of Prof. J.J. Barkman at the University of Utrecht during his two years of illness, and gave guests courses at the universities of Wageningen and Eindhoven during several years.
Sam’s first publication on flower paintings and drawings was an exhibition catalogue in Amsterdam 1970, Boeket in Willet. This catalogue reviews the development of flower painting through the ages, with stylistic and botanical characteristics from the different periods. Encouraged by Prof. J. van Gelder and Prof. J.Q. van Regteren Altena from the universities of Utrecht and Amsterdam respectively, Sam did more research on the subject, and left the university to devote himself to research on art. The research was supported by the Dutch Organization for the Advancement of Pure Research (Stichting voor Zuiver Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) over the time of three years, starting in 1975.
As the demand for advice from auctioneers, dealers and collectors increased and after having set up various exhibitions, Sam Segal founded Still Life Studies. The primary goal lay in obtaining the financial means for setting up an extensive body of documentation and a library to serve as a base for more profound studies, following a fixed methodology, according to which all studies are performed. Sam always retained his affiliation to the university, teaching Art History at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.
Sam published over 44 publications on botany and plant ecology and over 110 publications on art. He gave about 70 lectures and courses in many countries, including the United States and Japan. An exhibition on the painter Balthasar van der Ast in the Aachen museum in 2016 has been dedicated to him.
As well as the donation to the RKD Sam presented three seventeenth- en eighteenth century paintings to the Amsterdam Museum and a number of drawings and engravings from the sixteenth century onwards to the ‘Rijksprentenkabinet’ of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, a series of rare prints to the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels and his documentation of pictures and literature on music in art to the Association Répertoire International d’Iconographie Musicale in Zurich.
Sam’s present home is in Norwich, U.K., where he lives with his wife Maja Passchier, who teaches and performs cello. They have a second home in Amsterdam.