The Low Countries

Deze Engelstalige blog, gelinkt aan het jaarboek The Low Countries, brengt nieuws over taal, cultuur en maatschappij in de Lage Landen voor een breed buitenlands publiek.

  • 29 april 2016

A New Portrait of Spinoza?

A New Portrait of Spinoza?

In 2013 an Amsterdam art dealer found a description of a certain Portrait d’homme devant une sculpture by Barend Graat (1628-1709), a mediocre Amsterdam painter, in a Parisian auction catalogue. Constant Vecht recognised the man as a young Spinoza and was certain he had found the portrait people had been searching for for centuries. The dealer managed to buy the portrait in Paris for 3000 euros plus 750 euros in auction fees, and took a train from Gare du Nord to Amsterdam with the canvas under his arm.

If it depicts Spinoza in his thirties, then we finally have the one portrait of the great philosopher painted during his lifetime. This canvas is therefore the forerunner to the famous portrait by an unknown painter, thought to date back to 1680-1700, which hangs in the collection of the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel and the engraving from c. 1680 by an unknown engraver which has been preserved at the Rijksmuseum.

  • 8 april 2016

The Call of the Rockies: Pieter Jan De Smet and the Indian tragedy

The Call of the Rockies: Pieter Jan De Smet and the Indian tragedy

As a missionary working among the Indians of the Columbia Plateau and the Plains, Flemish Jesuit Pieter Jan De Smet (Dendermonde 1801-Saint Louis 1873) was a privileged witness to an important phase in the history of the development of the United States of America. 

The exhibition The Call of the Rockies - Pieter Jan De Smet and the Indian tragedy (until May 1st) in the Caermersklooster in Ghent, Flanders, focuses on the role of De Smet, not only as a missionary, but also as defender of the Indians themselves, an advocate for peace and a mediator with the American government. 

  • 6 april 2016

The Low Countries 24: ‘Read it: it doesn’t say what it says’

The Low Countries 24: ‘Read it: it doesn’t say what it says’

The 24th volume of The Low Countries yearbook is out now. The theme of this volume is literature, as Flanders and the Netherlands are the guest of honour at this year's Frankfurter Buchmesse, the biggest book fair in the world. 

You can order the yearbook on this page, where you can also view the table of contents

In this blog post, you can read chief editor Luc Devoldere's backcover introduction of our latest treasure trove.

  • 6 april 2016

Dutch Studies Program at Berkeley Turns 50 and Looks for Philantropists

Dutch Studies Program at Berkeley Turns 50 and Looks for Philantropists

In 2016, the Dutch Studies Program at the University of California in Berkeley is celebrating its 50th anniversary. This calls for a party, one would think, but this unique program faces problems.

What is the matter? Over the years, the Dutch Language Union (Nederlandse Taalunie) generously funded the Dutch Studies Program, yet due to recent budget cuts this funding will be discontinued. This puts in jeopardy a long tradition of bringing Dutch authors, artists, and visiting professors to the Berkeley campus and supporting student research projects and study abroad opportunities.

The Program’s funding now largely depends on private philanthropy, and there are various ways to get involved as a donor in this important program. You can read about them in this blog post.

  • 25 maart 2016

Johan Cruyff (1947-2016)

Johan Cruyff (1947-2016)

Holland's Glory in football boots is no more. Johan Cruyff, the undisputed number 1 (in shirt number 14), has passed away.

Let us remember this football player without parallel, unsurpassed in all his feats on the football fields of the Netherlands and far beyond, using the words that appeared in the 11th edition of The Low Countries yearbook (2003). They were written by the legendary Flemish sports journalist Jan Wauters (1939-2010).

Read how Wauters described Cruyff in this blog post.

  • 18 maart 2016

Celebrating the Charlotte Brontë Bicentenary in Brussels in 2016

Celebrating the Charlotte Brontë Bicentenary in Brussels in 2016

Almost everyone has heard of the Brontës and read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, or at least seen a film adaptation. Yet it is a little-known fact that in 1842-43, a few years before the publication of their best-sellers, Charlotte (photo) and Emily Brontë came to Belgium to improve their French at the Pensionnat Heger (on the site now occupied by the Paleis voor Schone Kunsten) in Brussels. Emily stayed for just under a year, Charlotte for two.

Charlotte fell in love with her tutor, Constantin Heger, who improved her writing skills as well as her French. Her relationship with him is reflected in her two novels set in Brussels

21 April 2016 is the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth. There will be many events to mark this bicentenary year in the UK and we are celebrating it in the city that was so influential on her life and work.

  • 13 februari 2016

2016: Jheronimus Bosch Year

2016: Jheronimus Bosch Year

Five hundred years ago the artist that painted the world-famous Garden of Earthly Delights died in his home town of ’s-Hertogenbosch, which is why 2016 has been proclaimed Jheronimus Bosch Year. With his astonishing ingenuity and stylistic and technical mastery, Bosch is considered by art historians to be a grand master. There will be countless projects and exhibitions during this centenary year, an overview of which can be found at www.bosch500.nl/en.

The highlight of the Bosch Year is an exhibition that opens on Saturday 13 February, in the Noordbrabants Museum in ’s-Hertogenbosch: Jheronimus Bosch – Visions of a Genius. Never before has such a large selection of Bosch’s paintings and drawings been shown together. The exhibition can be viewed till 8 May.

  • 4 februari 2016

Flanders Architecture Institute Launches International Newsletter

Flanders Architecture Institute Launches International Newsletter

Architects from Flanders and Brussels today play a role of significance, not just in this compact European region, but also by contributing ideas to the wider world.

The new English language newsletter of the Flanders Architecture Institute highlights international events and initiatives of architects and institutions. Every month it will provide information on exhibitions, lectures and conferences as well as updates on important building projects.

  • 1 februari 2016

Jaap van Zweden to Become Music Director of New York Philharmonic

Jaap van Zweden to Become Music Director of New York Philharmonic

Jaap van Zweden, currently music director of the Dallas Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestras, is to become the music director of the New York Philharmonic in 2017.

He will be the second Dutch music director of the New York Philharmonic, following in the footsteps of Willem Mengelberg.