Koningskade, Den Haag
52.089948508187, 4.31216092102202 View on map
To characterise himself, sculptor Gra Rueb once said: 'not the artist of the Dream, but the man of the Act, the worker'. So she did not see her art as something lofty, but simply as work. Rueb worked in various materials such as wood, bronze, stone and ceramics. She made busts, plaques, medals and monuments, and not least many animal figures. In these, she showed a preference for Dutch nature. Just sparrows and tits, cats and dogs, deer, horses, fish and frogs. And now and then a monkey or a chameleon.
These exotic animals prove that Rueb also took up exotic subjects. This observation also applies to the four reliefs on the Java Bridge near Koningskade. Rice, tea, coffee and sugar' from 1939 are themes that refer to the special relationship that The Hague had with Indonesia, then the Dutch East Indies. During and immediately after the colonial period, the city of The Hague was the place where people from the Dutch East Indies settled. The work of art undoubtedly evoked memories of what it was like there.
The actual function of the bridge reliefs was to explain the process of cultivation, harvesting and transport of Javanese products. We see coffee pickers harvesting beans, a farmer ploughing the wet rice fields with oxen, farm workers cutting and transporting sugar cane stalks, and tea pickers working with baskets on their backs.
Rueb depicted people, animals and plants in a stylised style that was common at the time. She simplified nature by limiting the elaboration of details. And she always studied her subjects long and hard. Witness the reliefs, which she also did here. Rueb herself never visited the Dutch East Indies, but - as was customary in those days - she must have based her work on descriptions, photos and prints.