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Hermann Hugo Berten was born in the German village of Kalk on 9 May 1884. He lived in Cologne until 1904, when he moved to the Netherlands, initially to Amsterdam where he lived and worked until 1926. After moving briefly to Blaricum, he settled in Laren, North Holland, where he died on 4 November 1959. Hugo Berten was self-taught, and painted in his spare time from his artists' materials and picture-framing business. His first exhibition in 1941 was at Van Lier art dealers in Amsterdam.