ZUTPHEN – “I’m really done now. But of course others can continue the research on the chandelier. Maybe in Canon Gerrit van Bronckhorst’s archives? Or by the painter Herman Maelwael?”
By Sander Grootendorst
This is what Aartje Bos said at the presentation of a new edition of the Zutphen chandelier from the fourteenth century. The origin and purpose of this church lighting in the form of a giant crown with golden Gothic letters and numerous images were for a long time shrouded in mystery. To date, not all puzzles have been solved. Hence the title of the publication that saw the light on Wednesday night: The secret behind the chandelier† In 2006, Aartje Bos published a book on the phenomenon; it continued to fascinate her thereafter.
The presentation took place, of course, in Walburgis Church, the public not only having a view of the speakers, but also – in the distance – the subject of the booklet, the second part of the Walburgis series. Before the ceremony itself, a small group, seated under the magnificent work of art, had sung songs in order to convey the story of the crown. Or in other words: to give the crown musical color. And colors had the crown, like so many other medieval works of art that later completely peeled off. The chandelier did not lose its last bit of color through the ravages of time, Bos writes: “Unfortunately, Monumentenzorg had all the remnants of color torn off, much to the anger of the restaurateur Brom and to the disappointment of the current visitors to the church. ”Medieval expert Professor Johan Oosterman from Radboud University also discussed the issue of color in his speech. “What is now black metal was then completely painted. I do not think the current Cultural Heritage Agency gives permission to brush over it. But it is an idea to have a 3D scan of the chandelier done and try to recreate the painting. Maybe it’s a follow-up project on Aartje’s work. ”
In six hundred years, the colossus left the church only once: to be part of an exhibition about Duchess Maria van Gelre (1380-1428?) In the Valkhof Museum in Nijmegen, where Oosterman was a guest curator. “At the time, I was worried about the move. Wouldn’t the metal bands explode? But it all ended well. ” Maria van Gelre probably saw the so-called Jerusalem chandelier in Zutphen with her own eyes. Tens of thousands of visitors did so in 2018 in Valkhof. “It has contributed a lot to its reputation,” Oosterman said. Also in Zutphen himself he assumed: “The realization that the city has one of the most special works of art from the Dutch Middle Ages.” Oosterman praised Aartje Boss’ working method. “She teaches us to look, takes us in her search. What do we really see? For example, what do those unicorns tell us? It is best to read the booklet while you are here. Aartje interprets the Jerusalem chandelier as a bridal chandelier, a reference to the Song of Songs. It also makes it plausible that the meaning in the Middle Ages could vary from person to person, depending on what your religious baggage was. “
Board member Herman Krans from the Walburgiskerk Foundation presented the first copy of The secret behind the chandelier to cultural councilor Sjoerd Wannet. It was his sixth day at work. Wreath: “The chandelier probably once hung right in front of the entrance to the council chapel, the bond between government and the clergy was very close. How appropriate it is to be able to offer the new councilor a booklet about the oldest cultural heritage found in Zutphen that still works. “
Aartje Bos: The secret behind the chandelier. Walburgis series 2, 12.50 euros.