Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Ultra-Dutch places, a very Dutch art form
One of the advantages of being over 60 in Holland is that every two months I get a free train ride wherever in the country I want to go. This time it wasn't far -- to the town of Monnickendam and the nearby island village of Marken, both in the province we live in, a district called Waterland in North Holland. As the name implies, Monnichendam -- meaning a dam with monks on it -- has monastic origins. (In fact there is no train to these towns, but it's not a long bus ride northeast of Amsterdam's Central Station.)
A folder of photos of these two Dutcher-than-Dutch places is here:
What helped me decide to travel near rather than far was a photo I recently saw of a "gevelsteen" (a facade stone sometimes placed on houses) of a guardian angel holding the house. Inspired work. I'd love to know who carved it. Note that the gevelsteen is replicated in miniature in the angel's arms.
I have a long-running love affair with these remarkable bas reliefs, many of which date back to the 17th century, though it's very much a living art form, as you see in the case of the guardian angel -- an carving just a few years old. A folder devoted only to gevelstenen is here:
Note: Double-click on the photo to see it enlarged.