Dordrecht part 1: public Art, the Grote Kerk and the Biesbosch

We went on a wedding anniversary trip last weekend to Dordrecht, a lovely old town in the Netherlands, a bit less than two hours' drive north of here. Here's the Grote Kerk, seen from one end of one of the canals.


One of the locals was waiting anxiously for his master to come home.


The street architecture is interesting and varied. Here's the former home of the Fishermen's Guild:


And a former cinema with Art Nouveau reliefs of the Muses:

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There is a street named after an annoying duck.


Some of the public art is striking – here are a speaking (or singing, or shouting?) head and an ear, facing each other along a canal:

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Here's a statue commemorating local boys Johan and Cornelis de Witt. Johan de Witt more or less ran the Netherlands for almost two decades from 1653, and Cornelis commanded the 1667 raid on the Medway recorded so memorably by Samuel Pepys. Eventually politics turned against them, and they were literally torn to pieces by a lynch mob in the Hague in 1672 (see the opening chapters of Alexandre Dumas' The Black Tulip, which I read at an impressionable age). As Dordrecht's most famous sons, they are honoured in their own country.


Some of the public art is less beautiful. ("The closer you are to Dordrecht, the lovelier it gets.")


Some hasn't yet been unveiled – a statue of William the Silent was to be inaugurated the day after we left.


Almost the first public sculpture we saw was this war memorial in Merwestein Park, by Hans Petri, a great Dutch sculptor of whom I had not previously heard, born a hundred years ago this year. (Not my first such artistic encounter of the weekend.)


We got interested in Petri after seeing this and then his sculpture of Job in the Grote Kerk.

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Here is Jonah in the Whale, also by Hans Petri, on the wall of a school to the east of the city centre.


His wife Greetje Petri-Eyskoot was a scupltor as well (not mentioned in Dutch Wikipedia, surprise, surprise), and her five-stemmed candlestick is also in the Grote Kerk:


The church also has a memorable set of icons by Wasili Wasin, this being the Last Supper:


The 17th-century choir stalls are remarkable too; here is a dragon coming to an untimely end:


And here is a mural of the legend of St Sura, who founded the Grote Kerk despite being inconveniently martyred by three rogues. She was brought back to life, and asked the Pope to free them on promise of good behaviour. (I failed to note the name of the artist.)


What really makes the Grote Kerk are the stained glass windows, this from the 1930s:


And this more contemporary:


The view from the top is spectacular despite the flat landscape – here's the first shot at the top of this post, taken from the other direction.

And in the other direction is the iconic bridge between Dordrecht and Zwijndrecht.


More art in another post tomorrow. On the Saturday afternoon we went to the Biesbosch nature reserve right beside Dordrecht, a massive wetland filled with wildlife. We would probably have been better to go there in the spring, but it was a pleasant walk.


More tomorrow, on art, history and food.

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