Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cats in Art: Street Scene in Amsterdam (Olsperger Hof)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I'm using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.  

The bride and I recently returned from a couple weeks in Europe, the trip of a lifetime.  We first took a Rhine River cruise downstream from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, Netherlands.  Then we remained 3 more days each in Amsterdam and Rome.  While in Europe, my Cats in Art became a sort of quest for us and the others of our group, so the next few weeks here on Sundays will be focused on our kitty discoveries in the Old World.

Today's subject is simply a street scene in Amsterdam, in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (AKA Holland):

Image credit Gary

I cannot recall the street, but the name of the building is the Olsperger Hof (House).  It was not far from the Anne Frank house.  These statues were above the entrance door on the ground floor, perhaps 20' above street level.  A couple things struck me about this outdoor art:

First, the age, dating from 1389.  We could quibble about dates, but history in the U.S. (well, European history, anyway) starts from the first successful colonies in the early 1600s at Jamestown, VA and Plymouth, MA.  That's a couple hundred years after some successful Dutch businessman (or woman, but I doubt it) decided to adorn his doorway.

Second, outdoor ornamentation was not unusual in Amsterdam.  People took great pride in spiffying up their exteriors.

Last, but not least, the kitties--they are what look to be leopards (since jaguars were as yet unknown in Holland)...which means that Mr. Olsberger may have been a seafaring guy.  The cats are close to life size, as near as I could tell from their perch above the door, very muscular, powerful, and fierce, and are unique from each other (not mirror images).  They have been faithfully guarding that door for over 600 years, so bring that up next time you get into it with a dog lover about how cats just don't care.

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