My Utrecht Art Collection

Utrecht Kunst
It should come as no surprise that I have a fondness for old photos of Utrecht and contemporary art inspired by the city. Over the past few years, I’ve been creating my own little collection. I don’t have as much as I would like, but I do have a list of artists and images I hope to add some day. For now, though, I have a small gallery wall that makes me happy.

The large print on the right was one of my first pieces. I’d seen it on Pinterest first, actually, but couldn’t find any info about it at the time (one of the drawbacks of the site). Eventually, though, I found the print itself at one of the local art stores and couldn’t resist. It’s a great collection of Utrecht symbols including lovely Lepelenburg Park, the Willibrord statue, Broodje Mario, the train station, and one of Rietveld’s chairs. What’s not to love?

To the left is an old print of the Paushuiz as it originally looked before the additions. Beneath that is the first print I bought from Ellessi at one of the Christmas markets. I just fell in love with her style. That day, I’d seen the next print to the left, on the top, but hadn’t had enough money with me to get it. The next time she was in town at one of the markets, I went specifically to get it. It’s a view of one of the cafés at the Donkere Gaard, as seen from another café that I frequent from time to time. Beneath that is another old print of the Oudegracht and the old crane that used to stand by the Winkel van Sinkel. Tucked in the corner is one of my own small photos that I have a fondness for.

The small picture on the bottom left is an antique postcard of the Breyerskameren, a view I get daily, as it’s across the canal from the park where we’ve taken our dogs over the years.

And on the top far left is my first print from L-Tuziasm. He’s a local artist I’ve written about previously. I absolutely love his work and hope to purchase one of his paintings some day. Each year, though, he does a limited print of the Domtoren. This was the first one I was able to get. However, I recently added a second one, the most recent one he’s done.

I had requested my copy, but a while later he contacted me to work out a barter. He was putting together a catalogue of some of his work and wanted to include an English translation. I helped him with that in exchange for the print (and a copy of the catalogue). Awesome deal! I might need another print before I can hang it, in order to get things balanced. For now, it’s sitting happily beneath the gallery wall, with one of my own photos and a few odds and ends.
Utrecht Kunst

Oma Nijn

Oma Nijn
I never finished posting some of the Nijntje statues that were dotted around the city last summer as part of the celebration of Nijntje’s (Miffy’s) 60th birthday. Seeing as today is Easter, I thought today might be a good day to post one of the image-heavy Nijntjes. This one is Oma Nijn (Grandma Rabbit) by artist Charlotte Dematons. Her version has Nijntje in a cozy cardigan featuring typical scenes of Dutch culture with Nijntje scattered throughout. I like the one where she and her friends are cycling through the tulip fields in both sunshine and rain. A bit like today! Which is your favorite?
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn
Oma Nijn

Trijn van Leemput

Trijn van Leemput
In honor of International Women’s Day, I thought I’d do a quick post about Trijn van Leemput. She’s considered a heroine of the 80 Years War against Spain, particularly here in Utrecht. The story revolves around the Vredenburg fortress that the Spanish had built on the western side of town after the Spanish annexed Utrecht in 1528. The Spanish garrison stationed there came under seige by local rebels soon after the start of the 80 Years War in 1576 and by 1577, a negotiation was reached and the fortress was abandoned.

An abandoned fortress wasn’t enough. Utrechters wanted the fortress to be demolished. Unfortunately, the city government disagreed. Not that that would stop the locals. On 2 May, 1577, Trijn van Leemput gathered a group of women, and with a makeshift banner made of a blue apron tied to a broom, they set off to take matters into their own hands. With pick axes and hammers, they began demolishing the brick fortress.

The story may be a mix of fact and fiction. Trijn van Leemput did exist. She and her husband, a brewer and miller, were among the leading families of Utrecht at the time and they had a large house on the Oudegracht. The statue of Trijn in my photos is located on the Zandbrug, a bridge over the Oudegracht near her home. The statue was erected in 1955 and shows her standing atop the Vredenburg fortress, with a pick-axe in one hand and one of the bricks of the demolished fortress in the other. Someday, I may get around to writing more about the remains of the fortress, some of which can be seen in random spots like one of the underground bicycle parking places.
Trijn van Leemput
Trijn van Leemput
Trijn van Leemput

Huize Molenaar Viewbox

Huize Molenaar
I regularly see things related to Utrecht on Twitter or Facebook that interest me. As a reminder, I open up a separate tab in my browser and hope to get around to following up on it in the not too distant future. I’m not always successful, as I kept one tab open for more than a year before finally giving up on it.

Today, however, I’m able to close two tabs. One was for the Heksen van Bruegel (Bruegel’s Witches) exhibit at the Catharijneconvent Museum. I may or may not post on it, as it was mainly for a bit of research for an article I’ll be writing on Bruegel in the future. However, today was the last day of the exhibit, so it was now or never! The other tab I can close relates to the Huize Molenaar and more specifically, a viewbox on a lamp outside of the building.
Huize Molenaar
I’d seen the viewbox somewhere online and was curious to see it myself, so I’ve had the Huize Molenaar website open for around a month. I’d forgotten about it while I was showing my friend around the other weekend, otherwise I could have checked it off my list earlier. I had honestly forgotten about it again today, until I was walking past the building itself and suddenly from the deep recesses of my mind, I remembered that there was something specific related to this building that I wanted to see. Finally, it clicked, just as I was about to walk past the lamp to which the viewbox is attached.

Huize Molenaar is used for private events, ranging from meetings to wedding receptions, and they offer fine dining for any of the events. They’ve been hosting private events since 1892. The viewer shows what looks to be an old photo from one of those earlier events. Ultimately, it’s just one of those cute, quirky things that makes walking down the streets of Utrecht that little bit more interesting.
Huize Molenaar

The Domtoren and the Pope

IMG_2493

I love this little intersection of historic spots and lovely architecture, especially as dusk makes its way in and the setting sun turns the Domtoren a glorious rose gold. Now the spot also has the addition of the statue of Pope Adrian VI to help frame the whole scene.

Camera Obscura

photo

A friend of mine came for a visit yesterday, but before meeting up with her, I took Charlie out for a walk to try to make up for the fact that I was going to be gone all day. We’d had a very light dusting of snow during the night, but nothing to make walking around treacherous. We had the added benefit of some glorious sunshine, but that’s more relevant to the photos I took later in the day.

Anyway, as Charlie and I were wandering around, I decided to finally go in search of the Camera Obscura I’d seen recently on Instagram. This house on the Kromme Nieuwegracht once belonged to photographer Frans Ferdinand van der Werf (1903-1984). He settled in Utrecht in the 1930s and became well-known for his photos that ranged from comic scenes in the city to the liberation of Utrecht by the Allies.

There is currently a free exhibition of his work at the Utrechts Archief, which is running through 21 May. I suppose I’ll have to leave Charlie behind again for that one, but I really do want to see the exhibit. Maybe I can get some fresh photography inspiration.

A Touch More Tour de France

Rietvelo
2015 was the year that the Tour de France came to Utrecht. We hosted the Grand Depart, the start of the race, and the city was decked out in yellow and other race-related colors for months leading up to and even after the race. Most of the decorations are gone, but a few still remain, particularly some of the wall art.

I had seen a print of the Rietvelo piece of artwork by Menno Anker, and I think I knew it was on a wall somewhere, but I hadn’t known where that wall was. I also wasn’t walking along a stretch of the stadsbuitengracht that I used to frequent fairly often. If I had, I would have seen it much sooner. In fact, soon after adopting Charlie and taking those walks along the ring canal once again, I soon spotted the Rietvelo piece, even from across the canal. I had no idea it was so close!
Rietvelo
Rietvelo
I always love when one of these large solid walls is turned into an art canvas. Some change, some remain the same. The Tour de France may be over, but I do hope this one stays up for a while. Of course, now that I’ve said that, it is probably coming down soon if not already!

Paus Adrianus VI

Pope Adrian
I saw earlier this week that a statue of Pope Adrian VI had been installed in front of the Paushuize, so deciding on where to go for my long walk with Charlie this morning was a no-brainer. I’ve written about this pope and his house here in my blog and even for a magazine article, but if you need a refresher, Adrian/Adrianus was the one and only Dutch pope. He was born here in Utrecht and built a house here in town, though he never actually got to live in it. He died (was possibly poisoned) in 1523 and there wasn’t another non-Italian pope again until Pope John Paul II.

The statue, by Anno Dijkstra, is up on some fancy wooden blocks, but I assume it will be more permanently installed in the future. Or not. I honestly have no idea. (Ok, I wasn’t going to do any research, but I just couldn’t stand not to do some. It seems that the wooden blocks may be permanent. The statue, which was unveiled on Thursday, is made of bronze and was inspired by the portrait of Adrian done by Jan van Scorel.)
Pope Adrian
Pope Adrian
Pope Adrian
Pope Adrian

Crooked Chimneys

Crooked Chimney
I love seeing old buildings like this where it’s clear the original structure has gone through a bit of a makeover with additions and rearrangements. Crooked chimneys such as this aren’t that uncommon a sight, but they always make me smile.

Utrecht’s City Walls

620px-Traiectum_-_Wttecht_-_Utrecht_(Atlas_van_Loon)This is a map of Utrecht dating back to the 1600s and much of the city is still recognizable. Certainly the general outline of the city is recognizable, although it should be noted that the section at the top of the map is the eastern side of town and the left bit is the northern side of town. Basically, it needs to be rotated one turn to the right.

The city center of Utrecht is relatively small and it is still easy to find the borders of the ancient city, since there’s a canal that nearly completely rings the city. In fact, they’re in the process of reconstructing the missing part of the canal on the western side of town, which was turned into a highway back around the 1960s. The road is gone and the canal is coming back. I think it is ready for the water, as of recent news, though I don’t know if they’ve actually filled it in yet.

However, in addition to the canal that ringed the city, there also used to be walls surrounding the city for protection. Massive three-meter-thick walls surrounded the city and there were only three main gates (east, west, and south) that let people in or out. The walls were initially wooden but eventually built of stone. I think the walls initially began in the early 1100s, although I’m not sure if that was the wood or stone wall.

While out for a walk with Charlie one morning, as we walked along the northern edge of the city, I happened to spot this marker for the stadsmuur (city wall) from the 13th century.
stadsmuur
The walls stayed up into the 1800s, and while it’s interesting to imagine what it would look like if they were still up, ultimately, the view is much nicer now. Still, you can get a hint of some of the fortifications, particularly along the eastern side of town. When we don’t head north, we typically head south, walking along the eastern edge of the city, following the path along the canal. In one section, you can see a fragment of the old city walls. Don’t let the picture fool you. This is actually much higher than it looks, because there is earth built up in front of it and there’s a hill path that leads you up to the top. Behind the wall is a two-storey house and the roof is essentially level (or slightly lower) than the top of the wall.

Old Wall
If you keep heading south along the eastern edge, you come to one of the bastions, which is home to the Sonnenborgh Museum now. Standing next to it gives you a real sense of the perspective and just how high and imposing the walls must have seemed. If you look at the old map, this is the triangular bit on the top right, which is actually the south east corner.
11/11/11 at the Utrecht Meridian