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Summer in Holland.
From an artist’s point of view.

One of the pleasantest times for the
art-student abroad is the summer,
when ensconced in some out-of-the-way
corner good for work and play. Especially
to the American, for whom the
quaintness of the villages and the life,
has a strange charm and interest.

Several years since, it was my good
fortune to spend two summers in a small
Holland village not many miles from the
picturesque old town of Dordrecht. The
thought of going to a new place and
making one’s home for a time among
people utterly strange in language, dress,
and customs, appeals to the imagination;
and our correspondence carried on with
some difficulties each in our own language
served to intensify a feeling of
curiosity. We learned afterwards that
our letters were translated by the
village schoolmaster; but we, having no learned
schoolmaster at hand, puzzled our brains
over the honest Dutch, which seemed to
be composed mainly of i’s and j’s. We
finally had recourse to one of those curious
individuals, a Paris guide, endowed
with a smattering of many languages,
though innocent of the grammar of any.

Many were the conjectures that preceded
our arrival at the little Dutch village
and the reality proved in some respects
more extraordinary than we anticipated.
We were a party of five art-students,
the first that ever been in
the village, and for weeks we were objects
of most intense interest and curiousity
to the inhabitants. This unexpected popularity
was somewhat embarrassing. One
would start for a quiet stroll and immediately
surrounded by a large crowd
of grown people and children, who accompanied
the unfortunate one, however
far, with characteristic Dutch patience.
Should the victim stop to sketch or
‘commune with nature’, the crowd sat
around in circles, usually quiet, with
eyes riveted on the stranger; but
sometimes, alas! they became frolicsome.

Now, I believe, things have changed;
and Rijsoord (the name of our village)
has become quite blasé in that regard.
They have their swarms of Paris students
every summer, like the other places that
‘get known’, and the good Vrouw has
no difficulty in filling her rooms at prices
more than double. Some of the inhabitants
assured us that we were being
cheated, and our landlady making a
great deal of money. We paid a little
less than three dollars a week; and that
included laundry-work, very good whole-
some food, and clean rooms. The unsophistocated
would hunt in vain for a bed
in these houses, for in the daytime the
doors of the cupboard-beds are closed,
and, being covered with the same wall-
paper as the room, give no hint of what
is within.

It was a quiet sleepy little village to
which many quaint customes of former
generations still adhere, and after our
modern rushing American life, one
seemed to have been dropped back a
hundred or more years.

An interesting character was the
‘Klapper-mann’ who wandered the
length of the village – there was no
breadth to it - only one long straggling
street of about two miles (in reality, the
dyke), with houses on either side. As
soon as darkness came the ‘Klapper
mann’ began his rounds. Starting at
the upper end of the town he could be
heard in the distance, faintly at first,
striking his wooden ‘klappers’ to-
gether three times and calling out the
hour of the night in a melancholy little
song, the notes coming nearer and nearer
and again growing fainter after he had
passed. To a person passing a sleepless
night, there is something reassuring and
comforting in the sound, and surely he
gave warning in time to all evil-doers to
move out of the way. It is not to be
supposed they have had a burglary
within the memory of man, yet they seem
to be strangely suspicious people, barring
their doors and windows most closely at

The 'Klapper-mann' has also another
duty, which is to awaken la-

-borers in the morning. He does this by
pounding on the doors as he makes his
last round, and singing a little song to
the effect that they must awaken and arise
from their sleep ere the clock strikes four.

One of our favorite haunts was
the house of the ‘Klumpen’, or woodenshoe
maker. In his shop, hung with
strings of wooden shoes, the old man and
his son worked busily. It was interesting
to see them take a block of willowwood
and, with dextrous hatched-strokes,
soon carve out a shoe. It is difficult to
imagine ever wearing out a wooden shoe.
One would expect a pair of ‘Klumpen’
to last a life time, and then what would
become of the ‘klumpen’-maker? The
children in Holland never go barefoot,
and they manage to kick holes in their
wooden shoes much as do those children
in others part of the world, more daintily

Near our ’klumpen’ maker’s shop
was the house that had the stork’s nest
perched on the chimney, an omen of
good luck. The three young storks in
the nest stretched out their necks and
welcomed the return of their parents
bringing frogs and other dainty morsels.
This seemed like a bit from a Hans
Christian Andersen story.

Models we had in plenty, and for
prices ridiculously small, although more
than the poor people received for working
very hard in the fields. At first
they considered is a wonderful thing
simply to sit still, and receive money for
that! Our means of communicating ideas
was in the beginning very limited. The
Dutch peasant has none of the quickness
of perception and intuition of the Latin
races; but with a small stock of German
words twisted, and queer Dutch sounds
added to them, we managed to be understood.

Holland, with its atmosphere, color,
and other qualities is very suggestive
for painting. Its fault is, perhaps, that
the picturesque is too obvious; a country
with more subtle qualities and requiring
searching to reach and bring out its
meaning, is often more satisfying.

The Dutchmen, however do not fail of
poetry in their pictures. It may be
because they are not strangers, and have
something more than the outside view
to express.

Pratt Institute monthly (nr. 6, 6 februari 1896)