Dordrecht part 2: a Biblical robot, more Art, history and food

As mentioned yesterday, we spent last weekend in Dordrecht, enjoying the art and environment of this Dutch city.

One thing I didn't mention about the Grote Kerk is that it has been commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordrecht, and the consequential commissioning of the Statenvertaling, the Dutch authorised text of the Bible. In the courtyard of the Hof, a former monastery where the Synod moved after its opening sessions in the Grote Kerk, a robot is writing out every word of the Statenvertaling. When we got there it was on 2 Maccabees. The ambition was to finish the whole Bible by the end of this month, but if it hadn't quite got to the end of the Old Testament by last weekend (having started in November 2018) I don't think it will meet the deadline.


The Hof is now part of the Dordrechts Museum where we spent the Sunday morning. I'm not normally a huge fan of art museums; maybe it was the mood I was in (wedding anniversary weekend, so some celebration) but I saw a lot to like here. The pictures of the art are not mine, mostly from the museum's official website. There were several temporary exhibitions on, two on individual artists which didn't do much for me but also a brilliant one about fish in art. Here's an erotic fish market by an unknown artist around 1597 adapting from an earlier picture by Joachim Beuckelaer (1533-1575):

And here's a brilliant 1613 Tobias catching the fish, the archangel Raphael cheering him on, by Pieter Lastman (1583-1633):

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The main collection has some more vivid biblical scenes. I love the exchange of looks between the two principals in The Call of Matthew by Arnold Houbraken (1660-1719):


And in the Adoration of the Magi by Benjamin Cuyp (1612-1652), one of them has brought an elephant.


Benjamin Cuyp was the uncle or cousin of Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691), one of Dordrecht's two best known painters, commemorated with this rather odd 2006 monument by Maria Roosen:

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Cuyp went in for rather dreamy landscapes; the one I liked best was this study of the ruins of Rijnsburg Abbey.


I also liked his portrait of Pieter de Roovere and son, founding the Dordrecht salmon trade:

Going forward in time a bit, I loved the light illuminating the Reading Woman at the Window by Abraham van Strij (1753-1826), the Grote Kerk visible behind her:

Apart from Aelbert Cuyp, Dordrecht's other famous painter was Ary Scheffer (1795-1858), who moved to France and made it reasonably big. He too gets a statue in one of the squares, by his admirer Joseph Mezzara (1820-1901), a model for it in the museum:
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Scheffer was one of the two artists featured in a temporary exhibition and on the whole I wasn't convinced. However his Heavenly and Earthly Love amused me – the two look rather into each other (or perhaps Heavenly wants a nibble of Earthly's snack):

As opposed to the 1911 treatment of the same subject by Jan Sluiters (1881-1957) where they both look pretty bored:

While I'm on art, the breakfast room of the place where we stayed (Oranjepark B&B at Toulonsestraat 81) had this somewhat disturbiung version of the print Sing Little Bird Sing by the Dutch artist Fake (1980-):


The Hof, where we saw the Bible-writing robot, is now a history museum which features a rather good video re-enacting the 1572 First Assembly of the Free States, a fundamental moment of Dutch history. It sends shivers down the spine and I think for Dutch people it would bring a lump to the throat. Here's the trailer – in Dutch only, but worth watching for the cinematography:

At the end of the film the screen rises to show you that you are literally in the room where it happened:


The rest of the museum had a series of artifacts from Dordrecht's history:


And a not hugely functional touch-operated personalised information system:


At the end you are invited to sign up to the same principles as the Assembly of 1572: an independent country where you are free to think what you think, believe what you believe and be who you are:


A couple of notes on food to finish off with. Our Sunday lunch was at Pim's Poffertjes and Pancakes, which is adorned by this little train running around just below the ceiling:

We got there just after it opened at 1pm, and it filled up rapidly. The pancakes and poffertjes were indeed yummy.

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And for dinner on Saturday we had a traditional rijsttafel at the Mulia Indonesian restaurant:


I should also say that we called in to Kees and Angelique van Toorn on the way home, as they live in the neighbourhood, and finished the weekend with a fannish twist. A good time.

One thought on “Dordrecht part 2: a Biblical robot, more Art, history and food

  1. Thinking it through, I can see another problem with the proposal that’s more psychological. The big problem is the small number of eligible people that nominate, making any small organised group more capable of getting there under any system (I recall some fuss about someone, Mira Grant? having a bunch of dedicated fans or something).

    18 nominations being enough to get onto the ballot (and I know it’s gone up, but still) is a bit poor given attendance, etc.

    But some of the people I’ve spoken to online that could nominate don’t because ‘they don’t know enough about the field’ or similar, they’re not wide enough read. My response is it’s supposed to be wisdom of crowds, nominate the best eligible you encountered and let the mass numbers sort it out.

    But if there are people already not nominating because they feel they don’t know enough, a change that will make their single nomination worth substantially more than the nominations of someone far better read might put them off even more (I disagree with their reticence, but I can at least understand it, and I do think this could make things worse).

    I think the biggest individual thing that needs to happen is for Worldcon to actively push for and solicit nominations from everyone eligible every year and word the solicitation in such a way that it gets people over the psychological hump of them not knowing enough, etc.

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