country: netherlands

Dutch Gothic
  • There is a windmill in the middle of the village you are visiting. You see it looming omniously over the rooftops as you drive by. It seems old. You are surprised to find it in the middle of a village while you’ve been looking for it in the countryside all day yesterday. You take a turn left. Then a turn right. You try to get to where you think the windmill will be. It is gone. You can not find it.
  • Everyone rides bicycles. There is literally more bicycles on the roads than cars. No one wears helmets. You do, and everyone gives you odd glances.
  • Everyones bicycles are old and rusty with pieces missing. They break down often. The Dutch person just sighs, gets of the roads and puts the bicycle upside down. Three minutes later they are riding again, hands covered in black grime.
  • You arranged a meeting at six am. You show up a quarter past six. The Dutch person isn’t there. You wait. They don’t come. They’d already been there at six but left ten minutes later, figuring you weren’t going to show up anymore. They are mad. They blame you. 
  • In the north by the coast there is Friesland. By car you can cross it in an hour. The people there speak Frisian. The Dutch can not understand Frisian. Not a word. They prefer English and German over Frisian any day. No one knows why the people from Friesland insist on speaking Frisian. Everyone is annoyed by this.
  • You growl when you speak. G’s rasping and R’s rattling even in the kindest sentences. The foreigners laugh at you (all but the Germans, of course). You hide your blush and lick your wounds, figuring you’re just going to speak English from now on. Everyone around you speaks English. They feel your pain. 
  • Since a few years the north has earthquakes. They are caused by the government sucking all the gas from the ground. People are fleeing from the countryside, leaving deserted ghost villages in their wake. The people from the North are mad! They keep saying they will become independent and keep all the gas for themselves. Another microcountry. As if Friesland wasn’t enough.
  • A foreign friends comes to visit. You want to cook a nice typically Dutch dish for them as a surprise. You stare at the kitchen counter blankly. All you can think of is mashed potatoes.
  • Spring comes. The people from the south go crazy. The names of all cities and villages are changed. Everyone dresses up in weird costumes as if to disguise or hide their whole land. From what? You wonder. You cross the river northwards. Suddenly it is silent. Everything has gone back to normal.
  • The winter comes. There is no elfstedentocht. Everyone panics anyway, especially in Friesland.
  • There are five small islands off the coast. You have always gone to one of these islands on day trips with your family. You know every single road on this particular island like the back of your hand. You know every rabbit by name. You know nothing about the other islands. You won’t go there. Ever.
  • No one talks about the ocean. Everyone knows it is there, but it has been a threat for so long everyones fear has dimmen and dulled. Like a looming apocalypse that keeps being postponed. Uninteresting. 
Say my name

Netherlands: “Okay listen up, my name is Nederland.”
Spain: “Holanda?”
Netherlands: “What the-.. no! No that’s not even close! That’s-.. are you using my province?!
Italy: “Olanda.”
Netherlands: “God damn it, I just said that’s just a province of mine!”
France: “Hollande.”
Finland: “Hollanti.”
Croatia: “Hollandija.”
Netherlands: “…”
Portugal: “Holanda!”
Netherlands: “OMG you’re just taking the piss now, Portugal!”
Germany: “Niederlande?”
Netherlands: *cries tears of joy*
England: “Lol we’ll have The Netherlands but we’ll only use Holland.”
Netherlands: “I hate you.”

With the US Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage, let's not forget those that came before it

Countries with the Freedom to Marry:
The Netherlands: April 1, 2001
Belgium: June 1, 2003
Spain: July 3, 2005
Canada: July 20, 2005
South Africa: November 30, 2006
Norway: January 1, 2009
Sweden: May 1, 2009
Portugal: June 5, 2010
Iceland: June 27, 2010
Argentina: July 22, 2010
Denmark: June 15,2012
Brazil: May 14, 2013
France: May 29, 2013
Uruguay: August 5, 2013
New Zealand: August 19, 2013
United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland) February 4, 2014
Luxembourg: June 18, 2014
Finland: November 28, 2014
Ireland: May 23, 2015
Mexico: June 3, 2015
The United States: June 26, 2015

Jozef Israels - Portrait of Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch - 1882

38 x 28 cm, watercolour, Groninger Museum, the Netherlands

Jozef Israëls (27 January 1824 – 12 August 1911) was a Dutch painter, and “the most respected Dutch artist of the second half of the nineteenth century”.

Hendrik Johannes Weissenbruch (born Jan Hendrik on 19 June 1824 in The Hague – 24 March, 1903 in The Hague) was a Dutch painter of the Hague School. He came from an artistic family, his father he painted in his free time and collected art on a small scale. Among his collection were works by Andreas Schelfhout and Bartholomeus van Hove. His cousin Jan was a well-known painter of romantic city views, and a brother, an uncle, and two cousins worked in the graphic arts. He also gave lessons to his son Willem Johannes, Theophile de Bock and Victor Bauffe.

When Jan was sixteen years old he received drawing lessons from Johannes Low. In 1843, he took evening classes taught by Bartholomeus van Hove at the Hague Academy of Art. During the day Weissenbruch worked in Van Hove’s studio, together with Johannes Bosboom and Samuel Verveer, helping to make pieces of scenery for the Royal Theatre.

Weissenbruch’s early work showed the strong influence of the romantic painter Andreas Schelfhout. Schelfhout’s influence can be seen in Weissenbruch’s early landscapes, painted in precise detail. His magnificent, cloudy skies show his admiration for the seventeenth-century artist Jacob van Ruisdael, whose work he saw at an early age in the Mauritshuis in The Hague. When he was invited to take lessons from this very celebrated artist, his older friend, Bosboom, advised him not to accept. ‘I can’t simply say “no, thank you” to Schelfhout!“ sputtered Weissenbruch. Whereupon Bosboom said: "you should do that, Weiss! You have to learn to stand on your own and see through your own eyes.” In 1847, Weissenbruch first exhibited at the exhibition of Living Masters, and he became one of the founders of the Pulchri Studio.

In 1849, two years after Weissenbruch staged his first exhibition, the Teylers Museum in Haarlem acquired one of his panoramic landscapes. However, that early success did not last very long. In spite of the prestige he had earned among his colleagues, he did not achieve public acknowledgement until the late 1880s. During this intermediate period, Weissenbruch went from being a characteristic painter of Dutch Romanticism to one of the best representatives of the Hague School. His lively dune landscapes led to a series of atmospheric impressions of the Dutch polders, in which the artist paid special attention to his representation of the cloudy skies and stretches of water. These beautiful oil and watercolour landscapes were painted, almost without exception, with free and delicate brushstrokes.

The sky above the polders began to play a more important role. His use of color gradually became more restrained and his application of paint increasingly broader and looser. This made his landscapes more atmospheric, the bearers of light and clouds. He stressed the importance of both of these elements when he said, “The sky in a painting, that is what is most important! Sky and light are the great magicians. The sky determines what the painting is. Painters can never pay too much attention to the sky. We live from light and sunshine, and go with or palette through the dry periods.”

Weissenbruch enjoyed working outdoors in the countryside. He usually found his subjects in the area around The Hague where he lived, rarely going far from home. However, in 1900, at the age of seventy, he took a trip to Barbizon where he painted his famous forest scene. The journey to Barbizon must have been a kind of pilgrimage for him, since it was in this area that French painters, in around 1830, had first begun to paint in the open air on a large scale. These 'painters of Barbizon’ strove for a natural representation of the landscape, paying particular attention to the mood and the light. Nature for Weissenbruch was also of the utmost importance.