Monument Jan Toorop
Buitenrustweg, Den Haag
52.0875956976218, 4.29022918177037 View on map
The criticism was fierce. The 'totem pole' should have its 'ornaments' next to Toorop's head chopped off, the councillors suggested. In 1936 the Hague city council had the opportunity to see the monument to the famous painter Jan Toorop (1858-1928) by sculptor John Raedecker. This innovative, three-headed work of art probably frightened them and they were not used to judging modern art.
The founding committee had earlier been delighted to write: 'The monument, like Toorop's personality, is characterised by a very original nature. The committee believes that the sculptor has certainly understood his intentions; the monument is a complete departure from the notion of a 'statue' or 'bust', as well as from a conterfeit in the form of a relief or medallion.
Toorop's expressive portrait with its pronounced features is placed on a high column. To the left of the powerful head is a woman's head, representing inspiration. The male head on the right, 'a sturdy fisherman', is the symbol of labour. A small nude figure between the two men's heads represents man 'born of conception'.
The commissioning committees were generally aware of the exceptional qualities of Raedecker's work. Nevertheless, this important sculptor from the 'Amsterdam School' (1916-1926) had a long struggle ahead of him. In 1935 he wrote distraught to the committee that had founded the Toorop monument: '[...], I need money. I hardly earn anything any more. Having started in 1930, he threatened to stop the work two years later if he did not receive any money. And so this commission dragged on until its unveiling at the corner of Jacob Catslaan and Buitenrustweg in 1937.
Large, prestigious commissions came late for Raedecker. After the war, he and architect J.J.P. Oud (1890-1963) were allowed to design the National Monument on Dam Square. He did not live to see its unveiling in May 1956. He died four months earlier: stone dust had affected his lungs.