Erasmus (1622) Hendrick de Keyser

Otto Snoek
About the artwork

The statue of Erasmus is the oldest statue in the Netherlands. Erasmus was one of the most important representatives and pioneers of the Renaissance in Northern Europe and wrote the book "Lof der Zotheid" in 1509. Erasmus was born in Rotterdam and called himself Erasmus Roterodamus - Erasmus of Rotterdam - and became the symbol of the Maas city. Hendrick de Keyser probably made the design for the bronze statue of Erasmus on the basis of portrait paintings and drawings that were made during his lifetime, among others by Hans Holbein the Younger. The clothing as well as the look and the attitude, reading with hands on a thick book, correspond to this. Together they give a picture of the man as a humanist. The bronze statue is more than life-size and is also elevated far above the viewer by the two-meter-high base. Because of the slight bow in his robe, it looks like Erasmus while reading. His left hand supports the large book in which he reads, with his right hand he turns a page. De Keyser received the order for the image in 1618. The statue was placed in 1622 on the Grote Markt and remained there until the bombing of May 1940. It survived the attack and was buried in the courtyard of Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, where it remained until after the liberation in 1945. The statue then stood on the Coolsingel in front of the Erasmus flat in Dudok, but it was taken up again in the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum when a metro was constructed. Then found Erasmus another place on St. Laurensplaats, now called Grotekerkplein. On the night of 21 on 22 November 1996, the image miraculously fell. This led to a discussion about the placement of the image. For the time being it is standing with its back to the Laurenskerk, but in the longer term it will be looked at whether the image will have a more appealing place in the city.
For more information: Sculpture International Rotterdam

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About the artist

Hendrick de Keyser (Utrecht, 1565 - Amsterdam, 1621), son of a Utrecht master furniture maker, received his training with the Utrecht architect and sculptor Cornelis Bloemaert. When Bloemaert left for Amsterdam in 1591, De Keyser followed him. Soon after his establishment in Amsterdam, he started working independently. In 1594 or 1595 he was appointed as the official stonemason and builder of Amsterdam. In this position he, together with bricklayer Cornelis Danckaertsz and carpenter Hendrik Staets, was responsible for the sculpture on all public buildings in Amsterdam. He worked on the tomb of Willem de Zwijger in Delft.

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