Netherlands' oldest statue turns 400 years old
It is 400 years ago this week that the statue of Rotterdam scientist and humanist Desiderius Erasmus was unveiled in his home city. It is the oldest statue in the Netherlands and stands today on the Grotekerkplein in front of the Sint-Laurenskerk.
In 1618, the well-known sculptor Hendrik de Keyser was commissioned to make a statue of Erasmus. De Keyser is also known for sculpting Willem van Oranje’s mausoleum, the town hall of Delft, and the Westertoren in Amsterdam.
The solid bronze statue of the theologian with a book in his hands has an eventful history. It was unveiled on April 30, 1622, on the Grote Markt in Rotterdam, and after much wandering and moving, it ended up at its current location, the square in front of the Laurenskerk.
The Rotterdam Grote Markt was completely destroyed by the German bombardment on May 14, 1940, but the Erasmus statue miraculously survived. While clearing the rubble, he was removed from his pedestal and buried in the courtyard of Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. After the war, the statue was placed in various locations.
In 1996, the statue was slightly damaged when it suddenly fell from its pedestal. At the time, experts suspected that air pollution was a threat to the statue and recommended that it be displayed indoors from now on. After investigation, Rotterdam did not agree, after which the statue was given a place outside again.
This Saturday there will be a commemoration for the statue on the Grotekerkplein in Rotterdam. Part of the celebration will focus on how it is exactly 500 years ago that Erasmus wrote about war and peace in his series “Conversations” (Colloquia). The humanist, who died in 1536, declared in it to be a pacifist above all else, but to understand that a country must defend itself if it is invaded by a power-hungry enemy.
Reporting by ANP.