GJ de Jongh monument (1935) Ad van der Steur & Leendert Bolle & Jaap Gidding & Henk Chabot
Gerrit Johannes de Jongh (1845-1917) played a key role in the explosive growth of the port of Rotterdam on the threshold of the 19e and 20e centuries. He was appointed director of Gemeentewerken Rotterdam in 1879, the year that the port of Rotterdam was immersed in financial mourning by the manipulations of Lodewijk Pincoffs. De Jongh quickly picked up the thread again and took care of the construction of the Rijnhaven, Maashaven and Waalhaven, with which Rotterdam could advance to 1950. On the day after his death, on the first of February 1917, the city council was very happy to make the decision to honor his memory by a permanent sign, even though De Jongh had already founded himself a memorial in his port construction. From that moment on the memorial was discussed for nine years and it would take another nine years before this monument was unveiled. The municipality would in fact finance it (a one-off) as a tribute to a brilliant citizen. But financing became a problem and the implementation did not get off the ground. For the director of the Steenkolen Handelsvereeniging, the wealthy entrepreneur DG van Beuningen, there were no doubts on this point. In the end he paid the bill for the monument that was placed behind the new Museum Boijmans to close the garden. The architect of the museum, Ad van der Steur, also designed the monument. Because, for example, the same red brick is used that is also used in the museum, it forms an ensemble with the museum.
The GJ de Jongh monument is a classic arrangement of a terrace overlooking the garden with a protective semicircular wall in the back. There is a seating element with a view of the water. Van der Steur designed the twelve-meter high needle of Scandinavian granite, the parapet of German sandstone and Dutch hand-molded brick, and the lines along the pond. Leendert Bolle made the bronze plaque with the image of Gerrit Johannes de Jongh and the bronze fence with narrative episodes about the day-to-day operation of the Municipal Works, which depicts figures that the director encountered a lot - from the earthworker to the alderman. Henk Chabot designed the inscription on the three inner panels of the semicircular natural stone wall that encloses the whole. In 1936, one year after the unveiling, Chabot was commissioned to depict the growth of the port and city between 1879 and 1910 in this inscription. But what De Jongh did for Rotterdam was most beautifully depicted in the mosaic made by Jaap Gidding, who tells of the growth of the port and city and of the broad lines that De Jongh had drawn for the future.
One day before the opening of the museum, on 5 July 1935, Van Beuningen (his name and collection were linked to the museum in 1958) handed over the monument to the municipality. The German occupation, which did not respect anything in our city, also left the memorial for De Jongh unchanged and therefore had to be demolished as a precaution. The demolition was fortunately left to cautious hands, who carefully brought the work to safety in parts. It was thanks to that that GJ de Jongh monument recovered after the liberation.
This work forms together with it Sculpture monument, Caland monument en Square island in the lake a collection of water management works in Rotterdam.
Architect Ad van der Steur (Haarlem, 1893 - Rotterdam, 1953) studied architecture in Delft. He then worked for NS and from 1924 in Rotterdam as a municipal architect, initially in a style related to Dudok and the Amsterdam School. Among other things, he designed the Rotterdam Eye Hospital, the Erasmiaans Gymnasium, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the ventilation buildings of the Maas Tunnel in Rotterdam. A number of his designs are on the list of National Monuments in Rotterdam.