Serendipitous Connections

Mariakerk by Saenredam

Thanks to Mark’s incredibly helpful and informative comments on my last post about Mariahoek, I now know a bit more about that area of town. The embarrassingfunny thing about it all is that I failed to make the connection between the Mariaplaats/hoek/hof of the area with the painting I saw at the Mauritshuis Museum on a recent visit. I was particularly enamored with a series of paintings by Saenredam, in part, because they had such a clean, simplicity of style, line and color, but also because they depicted churches here in Utrecht. In fact, I was so taken by one of the paintings (the one pictured above) that I bought the postcard of it. I kept meaning to do some more research on the church and artist, but it slipped my mind. How serendipitous that I should find out this way!

I was reminded of Mariahoek again this morning, as I awoke early to the sound of a rooster! Hearing a rooster in the city center is a bit unusual, to say the least. Our windows were open for a change, since we’ve had some very high temperatures for the past 36+ hours, so the morning noises were easier to hear. At first I thought the sound I heard was a yapping dog, but then I realized I was hearing the clarion call of a rooster. Perhaps it was the Haan statue at Mariahoek come to life! Or maybe it was one of the animals over at the Griftpark and the sound was just travelling really well. Perhaps there’s a surprise rooster living in one of the hidden gardens somewhere in the neighborhood. All have their moments of credibility in the old city center, depending on the amount of delirium due to the hour and the heat!

ETA: A couple of hours after posting this, I came across some news about another Saenredam painting, this time of Janskerk here in Utrecht, being discovered at auction and now on display for a few months at the Centraal Museum here in town!

Time Travel: Mariahoek

I’m afraid I don’t know much about this spot. I haven’t found any info so far in my Google quest. Still, it’s a lovely little garden oasis in the center of the city, just off some of the busy shopping streets like Steenweg. I was here late last year and got some lovely photos, but none from the same direction as the old post card, so we went back today on our long walk with Pippo and I tried to get a matching shot.
The buildings don’t seem to have changed much, but the trees have, which meant that if I wanted the church towers in the background, I had to stand more to the right, because otherwise the tree in the center blocked much of the view. Still, other parts are recognizable, including the small ironwork balcony on the building to the right, and the rooftops of the building further back on the right. Here’s a shot I took last October of that ironwork balcony. It reminded me a lot of New Orleans.
Shades of New Orleans

I didn’t really find any information about this corner of town, but I did inadvertently find out about the rooster sculpture that stands in the gardens. I had noticed it last year, but I got a better shot of it this year. It’s called Haan (Rooster) and is by an Italian sculptor named Luciano Minguzzi. I think the sculpture was placed in the garden area in 1957, although the gardens were a bit less lush then. The sculpture itself seems to have been created in 1955 for an international exhibit of sculpture in Arnhem at Sonsbeek Park.
The sculpture now sits further back in the gardens. If you look at the garbage can on the left and then look behind that, you can just make the sculpture out over the shrubbery and in front of the lamp.
Mariahoek Gardens