Mr. P. Droogleever Fortuynweg, Den Haag
52.058483389006, 4.2918084539392 View on map
A healthy mind in a healthy body. That is what Berlage had in mind in 1908 with his design for a park in The Hague South-West, the district where mainly workers were to live. There was to be a public house, a theatre and many opportunities for games and sport. It goes without saying that the park's sporting and relaxing function was also considered at the entrance. Architect A. Pet from Gemeentewerken designed the entrance with two 6-metre high columns on either side.
The sculptures that would adorn the pillars were commissioned by Corinne Franzen-Heslenfeld from the Municipal Commission for Art Assignments. It was one of the first acts of the commission, established in 1940, which aimed to stimulate The Hague visual artists through purchases and commissions. Franzen-Heslenfeld designed two athletic nudes several metres tall for the entrance to the 'leisure park'. The man with the torch and the woman striding forward with a bird in flight symbolise victory and speed.
After her studies at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, Franzen-Heslenfeld was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1928, which enabled her to work in Rome. After her return, she settled in The Hague and created the sculpture 'Gerda with the reindeer', which was placed in Marlot. She was a much sought-after artist and produced dozens of portraits, sculptures and medals.
Franzen-Heslenfeld had to do a lot of work to make the two gigantic entrance sculptures. In her studio, which was raised especially for this commission, she had to climb a ladder to shape the model in clay. The clay mass regularly collapsed in the process. Before they got their final shape in bronze, the clay models had to be cast in plaster in parts. Years later than planned, the two figures were ready. A sporting achievement in a few square metres.