Westbroekpark , Den Haag
52.1018584375764, 4.29400376040613 View on map
It was a bit daring to erect a monument to the greatest advocate of social realism our history has ever known in the middle of a well-to-do neighbourhood: Pieter Jelles Troelstra (1860-1930). Nevertheless, since its unveiling in 1953, Labour Day has been celebrated here every year on 1 May. Troelstra was one of the twelve founders and leader of the SDAP, the Social Democratic Workers Party. He played an important role in that party for some thirty years.
Troelstra, who was also a meritorious poet in Friesian, owes his fame mainly to his qualities as a propagandist in word and writing. He was a popular orator at public meetings all over the country. He knew how to convey the social democratic ideas like no other.
The sculptor Piet Esser has also depicted him as a great orator. By his posture, the step forward and the arm gesture, you can imagine that he is about to address the crowd. It is a characteristic pose. It looks as if Troelstra is stepping out of a gate, judging by the concrete construction around him. On top of the gate are three bronze figures supporting each other. These men symbolise the emancipation of the labour movement.
It is not the three workers or Troelstra himself who stand out in this sculpture. It is mainly the abstract concrete gate that catches the eye. Especially when you consider that Esser has always openly championed figurative sculpture. As successor to the famous Professor Bonner at the Rijksakademie, he tried to keep pace with abstract sculpture. The fact that Esser incorporated an abstract element in this monument is related to his ideas about sculpture and architecture. He wanted to merge these disciplines.