Between art and kitsch: Museum Arnhem – From the toilet to the living room – Between art and kitsch

Between Art and Kitsch / 16 January 2023

In the Monday 16 January 2023 broadcast from Museum Arnhem, Jaap Polak sees a Buddha that is now in the toilet, Remco van Leeuwen looks at a possible marriage box and Pieter Jorissen assesses a painting that used to hang in the salon.

Painting Peter van der Velden

Painting from Between Art and Kitsch
  • Image: dominoes in an interior
  • Creator: Peter van der Velden
  • Origin: The field
  • Date: 1879
  • Material: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 62 cm high, 71 cm wide

This painting used to hang with the owner’s parents above the sofa in the ‘parlour’, the front room used only at weekends. She used to not like the painting that much, but now she finds it more and more special.

Expert Pieter Jorissen says that this painting was made by Peter van der Velden. He was the first painter to paint the fishing towns of Volendam and Marken around 1860. Van der Velden was fascinated by the traditional fishing life.

He studied at the academy in Rotterdam and lived in Marken between 1870-1873. Later he emigrated to New Zealand, where he has become world famous. This painting may be a preliminary study of the large work in the Rijksmuseum. It is exactly the same painting, but much larger. A copy can also be found in Auckland (New Zealand).

In 1999, the Dutch ambassador tried to get the large painting from the Rijksmuseum to New Zealand for an exhibition so that the two paintings could be displayed side by side. So now a third painting with the same scene has been found.

Document box

Document box from Between Art and Kitsch
  • Image: weapon
  • Origin: Northern Italy / Tyrol
  • Date: end of the 14th/15th century
  • Material: walnut with iron fittings
  • Dimensions: 12 cm high, 47 cm wide, 12 cm deep

The owner received this box from her parents-in-law’s inheritance. She thinks it’s a special piece, but it doesn’t fit in her room. She kept it in a hidden place in the house.

According to expert Remco van Leeuwen, the box dates from the 15th century. It is made of walnut wood with iron fittings. Such a box was used to store important papers, a real document box. You can think of city ordinances, documents for a peace agreement or documents for a marriage.

In this two weapons alternate; one with two black lions and one with a red lion. So you might think that these are two coats of arms and that this is a marriage chest. The size of the box indicates a roll of parchment. They have made a really nice box to store something special.

The Buddha of the Future

Bodhisattva Maitreya from Between Art and Kitsch
  • Object: bronze sculpture
  • Image: Bodhisattva Maitreya (the future Buddha)
  • Origin: Indonesia, influenced by Pala art from northeastern India.
  • Date: 8th – early 9th century AD
  • Material: bronze
  • Dimensions: 17 x 9 cm

The owners are brother and sister and have the figure from their grandfather’s legacy. They come from the Hagemeijer family, a merchant family from the time of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company. The figure was always packed in boxes in the attic, but now stands in the brother’s toilet.

Jaap Polak explains that it is a Bodhisattva Maitreya, the future Buddha. Some Bodhisattvas postpone Buddhahood. As Buddha, you can no longer mean anything to others, only to be worshipped.

You can recognize Maitreya on the headdress, which contains a ‘stupa’, a funerary monument. Maitreya is in the athletic sitting position instead of the meditation position. His right hand rests on his knee making ‘varada mudra’, the hand position for giving blessings.

Polak believes that monks from Indonesia brought these types of figurines with them when they stayed in India as pilgrims or for religious studies. As a souvenir like an Eiffel Tower from Paris. It is made in Indonesia itself and that makes it extra special because it is inspired by Indian art and iconography.

Sent on Monday 16 January 2023 at 21:20 on AVROTROS on NPO 1 (after that the broadcast can be seen again on NPO Start)

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