me naked on ice

city of art renewal
since 16th century

What the fuck am I doing there, you may ask. Let me explain: I've been living in this city for almost 30 years now, right on this canal that you see here frozen over. That was for the first time since I lived there: it just never did because it is a major shipping route and waste was dumped in it. That is no longer done these days and even children swim in it once again, on sundays, when there is no shipping. In the year 2000 however one sunday it froze really good and we had an ice-rink in front of the house for 2 weeks. Enabling me to realise this dream of posing nude with skates on. It was photographed at 6 AM sundaymorning, but still atracted some amazed lonely cyclists as you can see in the background. Behind me is a wall-house once part of the city's perimeter fortifications Further back is the New Church tower at the citycenter.
Probably the best known image of Delft, so I'm using it here. Much of gay life these days happens at a place visible on it: In the middle of the image is the small building that houses the DWH, local gay community center.

the little tower left was part of the Santa Barbara cloister back then

it now is restored as a student fraternaty building. I was a member there, enjoying my first student years, around 1970.

The church steeple behind is the same one as you see on the photograph of me, only seen from the other side of town as the map below will illustrate

Map drawn by cartographer Willem Blaeu, note that the top op the image is not the North, but the east.
Nr 1 = the place where I live now.
Nr 2 = the place where Vermeer painted the above view on Delft.
Nr 3 = The house at the corner of the curved small alley, now the DWH;
Nr 4 = The artists-guild building, just a hundred meters east on the same 'Voldersgracht' Vermeer was born.
Right across the square, next to the choir of Maria v Jesse Church Vermeer did most of his painting.
The tower we see on many images is of the new church, eastside of that square.
Nr 5 = where the gunpowderstorage was that blew up half the town on october 12th 1654
Vermeer, geographer possibly Christaan Huygens Delft was the second city of Holland back then, Holland being only the current two provences with that name. And apart from it being the residence of the founding father of the Dutch nation was a center of tolerance and science. Here we have a portrait done by Vermeer of Christian Huygens, who not only invented the microscope but brought Dutch painters to using lenses to obtain more accuracy in their drawings. For more on that read the book secret knowledge, David Hockney wrote on the subject. Do watch some great vidclips of boys posing for a camera obscura there.
a Lot of what made Delft flourish culturally from the 15th century onward was due to the Saint Lucas Guild, where everyone and everything that had some significance in art, science, trade, fashion, design, gathered to exchange experiences, secrets, assignments, or exclude others and non members from this whealth.
The Lucas Guild house in drawings from 1650, 1720 and 1820, and a photo from 1880, just before demolition. The fries had already been taken off because parts were falling down. At the right you see a part of the reconstructed facade.
At the site of the medeaval guild hall which was excavated in 2004, in april 2007 the Vermeer Center opened its doors in a reconstructed Gildehuys at Voldersgracht 21.
Inside you can now see all works by Vermeer chronologically in new highres reproductions, exactly true to scale, making it the best place to study his work, because his works have been scattered all around the world. Also a ultrawidescreen (14 x 2 mtrs) presentation of his work and his times and his city shows both in Dutch and in English. On the 1st floor you can revisit his studio and learn about how he painted, his technique, his knowledge of colors, light, lenses, and perspective and his influence in painting, movies, literature are shown.
William of Orange (to the left here, below is his son prince Maurits painted by de Key from Antwerp. He may look sweet here but he became a ferocious warrior later on.

His residence, called Mauritshuis, these days is the museum that holds most of Delft's heritage, including the Vermeers described here and lots of Rembrandts) led the independance war against Spain in the 16th century resided in Delft and thus became founding father of our country was murdered here by an assasin sent by king Phillip II of Spain.

His family home was in Breda in the south of the country but that was still occupied by the Spanjards, so he was buried in the New Church which since then and to this day has housed the royal cript. Below you see part of the burial procession. The Drawing done by a good old familiar guy Goltzius.

these burials were a big do. Maurits (as boy above) was brought to the crypt about a year after his death, as it took a while for foreign heads of state to travel here in those days. His was even more impressive then the one of his father. And they still are pretty big events today: I witnessed 3 royal burials in my lifetime sofar. A report on the one the recent burial of Queen Juliana is here (31-3).

Delft's artists gathered at the guildhouse on the Voldersgracht, currently being rebuilt. Their communications at that place led to a great deal of innovation in painting technology, New methods of making perspective more intriguing were worked out there. Some first trials are visible in these two church interiors of (left) the Old and (right) the New Church in Delft. Behind the pillar we can see the then just completed state grave monument for William the first.

You may wonder why this emphasis on churches, well this whole era and the war between Spain and the Dutch was about religion and tolerance. I'd like to show one more interior by Emanuel de Witte, of the Old parrish church of Amsterdam, the main church there then. I worked in that same church last season doing set and light design for a dance performance
let's move to two other artists who spent most of their lives in Delft:
right is a selfportrait of Carel Fabritius, a real hunk in my opinion. His was a sad life indeed, as you may read below.

below is a (enlarge by click) portrait of a rich citizen of Delft and his daughter giving an alms to a beggar on the corner of the Oude Delft and the Binnenwatersloot.
done by Jan Steen
research in 2006 proved the man depicted was not the mayor but wheat broker Adolf Croeser (ca. 1612-1668). He lived across the canal from Steen at the Oude Delft and had 5 children, of which only the girl Catharina survived. She was 13 in the year this painting was made.
What we have now as common knowlegde about Carel Fabritius, 12 paintings, may well be seen as a halfwaymark of the ongoing research. A new look at the remains of a historic ouvre that mainly blew up with the huge powderhouse explosion in Delft on october 12th 1654. Together with the artist, who at that moment was painting a portrait of the "koster" (verger) of the New Church at his house on the Doelenstraat.

Fabritius' life was marked by a lot of tragedy: He lost in succession his son, wife and doughter and was only 32 when he died himself. He was born in1622 in Middenbeemster and at 19 became student of Rembrandt, which is remarkably late for those days. He goes back to his birthplace in 1643 and only in 1650 moved to Delft, where he painted this musician you see below here at a spot I cross daily the corner of Oude Langendijk and Oosteinde.
The date is there: 1652. You would not believe how exactly the same that spot looks 350 years later. Only the piece of canal where the woman stands has been covered over and the tip of the steeple has been rebuilt differenty after a fire in 1783. The tower, on which building had begun in 1396, burned in 1536, again in 1618 and in 1872. That last time it was heightened much steeper to become the heighest tower in the country, it remained that for 100 years until the Dom of Utrecht was also heightened. Also the tallest house below the tree at the right is still there and owned by a good friend of mine, who runs an antique shop there.

the powderhouse explosion of 1654 at which Carel Fabritius died while he was doing a portrait job at the Doelenstraat

The above mentioned Doelenstraat is just across the Schie from where I live now and the powderhouse has stood about 200 meters away from my house across the canal. The ground piece is still owned by Defence today and houses a , hopefully less explosive, military storage facility. The foto (by downstairs neighbour Eric) here shows a look in that direction from our house. The tall trees grow on the spot of the former powderhouse. In front you see a boathouse built out of a restoration of a former citywall-tower (see map above). That building has another link to Vermeer. The architect who built it was Johan Vermeegeren, (real name), who was sentenced to years imprisonment in 1948 because he'd forged paintings by Vermeer. He did not copy work but made original pieces posing them as new finds of Vermeer originals and did trick major musea, like Boymans in Rotterdam to buy them for millions of dollars. These days the Boymans has overcome it's shame and exhibits the forgery on it's own merit.
watching guys pulling out their rowingboats is one of the major attractions of living here on the canal:
to finish of some more detailed Vermeer:

two others y'all know plus Delft's most famous, possibly gay sculptor from the time, who has a gallery all of his own:
go on delftboys to the golden ages, the lobby, masterclass overview or links