Out of Focus
No longer exists
It happened in early July 2023 during the brief but violent storm Poly. Some of the giant trees in Park Marlot gave way and partially fell on top of Gerda and the reindeer. The statue of Corinne Franzen-Heslenfeld did not survive the blow. It was already somewhat weakened by previous repairs, and time - it had existed for over 80 years - had made the soft stone from which it is made even more fragile. It came out completely in smithereens under the fallen branches. So trees and statue are no more. What remains are countless memories local residents and walkers in Marlot have of the lovely scene.
Gerda en het rendier
h. 148 cm
Park Marlot, Den Haag
52.099523923019, 4.3550593074446 View on map
In a quiet spot in Park Marlot stands a reindeer. Its head leans forward towards a little girl who seems to be whispering something to it. Who are these figures and where do they come from? For connoisseurs, it is clear: the two figures have run away from 'The Snow Queen', a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The girl Gerda is the main character. Aided by a talking reindeer, she follows her boyfriend Kai who has been kidnapped by the Snow Queen. She finds him and makes his cold heart thaw again.
This was the subject Corinne Franzen-Heslenfeld chose for the sculpture she had to make in return for the Prix de Rome. In the meantime, she had just married and, as was still quite common in the 1950s and 1960s, had returned from Rome to join her husband.
Franzen-Heslenfeld was a headstrong woman who, despite many doubts and opposition from her surroundings, always fulfilled her ambitions. She was responsible for gigantic stone-carved sculptures such as the freedom monuments in Utrecht and Noordwijk and the two metres-high athletic nudes on the entrance gate to the Zuiderpark. She has also made countless portrait busts and sculptures of children in clay, bronze and stone.
Gerda en het rendier' was commissioned by the then Minister of Education, Arts and Sciences, Mr Jan Terpstra. Heslenfeld had to design a sculpture for a children's park. That explains her choice of the fairy tale. For lack of another suitable location, it became Marlot, one of The Hague's parks. Heslenfeld had no objection to this. Her sculpture stands there exactly as she wished: against a leafy green background. The sculpture still stands there and in the same entourage: just as steadfast as Gerda's love for her boyfriend Kai.