GJ de Jongh monument (1935) Ad van der Steur & Leendert Bolle & Jaap Gidding & Henk Chabot

photo BKOR archive
About the artwork

Gerrit Johannes de Jongh (1845-1917) played a key role in the explosive growth of the port of Rotterdam on the threshold of the 19th and 20th centuries. He became director of the Rotterdam Public Works Department in 1879, the year that the port of Rotterdam was plunged into financial mourning by the manipulations of Lodewijk Pincoffs. De Jongh quickly picked up the thread again and was responsible for, among other things, the construction of the Rijnhaven, Maashaven and Waalhaven, with which Rotterdam could continue until 1950. On the day after his death, on February 1917, XNUMX, the city council made the decision with all approval to honor his memory by making a lasting sign, even though De Jongh had already founded a memorial in his harbor construction. The memorial was discussed for nine years from then on, and it would take another nine years for this memorial to be unveiled. The municipality would finance it itself (unique), as a tribute to a genius citizen. But financing did become a problem and implementation did not get off the ground. For the director of the Steenkolen Handelsvereeniging, the incredibly rich entrepreneur DG van Beuningen, there were no doubts on this point. In the end he paid the bill for the monument that was given a place at the end of the garden behind the new Museum Boijmans. The museum's architect, Ad van der Steur, also designed the monument. For example, because the same red brick is used that is 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 sheltering 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 depicting Gerrit Johannes de Jongh and the bronze fence with narrative episodes about the daily operations of the Municipal Works, in which figures are depicted with which the director came into contact a lot - from the earthworker to the alderman. Henk Chabot designed the inscription on the three inner panels of the semicircular natural stone wall, which encloses the whole. Chabot was commissioned in 1936, a year after its unveiling, to depict the growth of the harbor and the city between 1879 and 1910 in this inscription. But what De Jongh has meant for Rotterdam is best depicted in the mosaic made by Jaap Gidding, which tells in color of the growth of the port and city and of the broad lines 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.

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About Ad van der Steur

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.

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About Leendert Bolle

Leendert Bolle (Rotterdam, 1879 - Rheden, 1942) wanted to become a painter and therefore visited the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam and the Académie Julian in Paris. He eventually became a sculptor and made monuments and tokens. He worked in America for a number of years and settled in 1913 in Rotterdam, where he has realized various works.

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About Jaap Gidding

Designer Jaap Gidding (Rotterdam, 1887 - Rotterdam, 1955) was one of the most versatile Dutch designers of the first half of the 20th century. He was trained in Rotterdam in the painting company of his father Jan Gidding, where Willem de Kooning also started his career. Gidding continued to teach in Munich and Berlin. He designed, among other things, wall and ceiling paintings, mosaics, fabrics, wallpaper, glass, ceramics, stained-glass windows and interiors of many cinemas. But most famous are his carpet designs, especially the colorful carpet in the hall of the Tuschinski theater in Amsterdam. For Rotterdam, Gidding made the mosaic of the GJ de Jongh monument and the mosaics on both sides above the escalators of the Maastunnel for cyclists.

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About Henk Chabot

Hendrik Chabot (Sprang, 1894 - Rotterdam, 1949) is an expressionist artist. He is best known as a painter, but was also active as a sculptor in the twenties and thirties of the last century. He was friends with other famous artists, including Charley Toorop. He is seen as one of the most important representatives of expressionism in the Netherlands. Probably his best-known work The Rotterdam fire.

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