Strong city (2004) Willem Verbon

photo Otto Snoek
About the artwork

Since 2004, the sculpture collection has been on Sint-Jobskade on the Müllerpier Strong city, consisting of plaques, statues and busts made by the Rotterdam artist Willem Verbon. The plaques show people who, according to Verbon, have been important to Rotterdam and artists admired by Verbon. Some of the images also refer to the war. A large part of the plaques were commissioned in 2001 by the Humanitas Foundation as a contribution to the Rotterdam Cultural Capital event. At that time the works were exhibited on the Kop van Zuid, but after Verbon's death in November 2003, the works were given a permanent display in 2004 on and around this square on Sint-Jobskade. 27 reliefs, 2 busts and 7 statues have been placed on the initiative of Humanitas. On the square you can see statues of Piet Heyn, a standing dancer, an eagle (Aggressor), a head (May 1940), a seated dancer on a stone bench, a torso of a man (Warrior) and a marathon athlete. Most of the statues stand on brick plinths. The busts and plaques hang from the walls of two apartment complexes. Humanitas is located in one complex, as well as a general practitioner and pharmacy. On the facade of this building there are 14 reliefs and one bust, by: artist Pablo Picasso, artist Henk Chabot, sculptor Willem Verbon (a self-portrait of the artist), stadtholder Willem III, composer Willem Pijper, economist and physicist Jan Tinbergen , world sailor Olivier van Noort, painter Herman Saftleven, carver Grinling Gibbons, a bust of the British statesman Winston Churchill, philosopher Pierre Bayle, philosopher Hans Becker, councilor John Locke, Count William IV and Prince Bernhard. 13 reliefs and the other bust have been placed on the opposite apartment complex: artist Henry Moore, artist Ossip Zadkine, artist Willem de Kooning, priest Angel Merula, Prince Willem-Alexander (King of the Netherlands since 2013), harbor baron and politician Lodewijk Pincoffs, artist Kees van Dongen, a bust of Queen Wilhelmina, Queen Juliana, American general George C. Marshall, civil engineer Pieter Caland, philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, writer and philosopher Voltaire and a relief that refers to Zeus, who in the guise of a bull princess Europa kidnapped.

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About the artist

Willem Verbon (Rotterdam, 1921 – there, 2003) took classes at the evening academy in the 1930s. Immediately after the Second World War, Verbon was commissioned to make a monument in honor of the Royal Air Force. He got one postgraduate scholarship offered by the British government and left for London for several years. In the early 1950s, Verbon returned to Rotterdam, where he moved into a studio in Oranjeboomstraat. His work mainly consists of figurative sculptures, usually representing historical figures. Verbon sculpted various statues and monuments for important Rotterdam residents and members of the Royal Family. Many of his works of art can be found in the public space of Rotterdam.

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