General Non-Fiction posted November 10, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
A historical story

The Painter And The Girl

by Dutchie

It was in 1664 when a Danish girl came to Amsterdam.
Her name was Elsje Christiaense and she was only eighteen years old.
Elsje had heard Amsterdam was such a booming city and decided to build
a bright future there. She moved in with a landlady on the Damrak, where
she rented a room.
She was looking for a job as a maid, but a job was hard to find.
After two weeks the landlady became very angry and forced Elsje to pay the rent.
Elsje could not pay the rent and the landlady would confiscate her box with
meager possessions.

When Elsje refused to give the box, the landlady hit Elsje with a broomstick.
The girl got scared and confusedly grabbed an axe that was within her reach
and hit the landlady on her head. The woman fell down the stairs and ended up
in the basement and died instantly.
When the neighbors heard the noise they entered the house to see what was 
going on. Elsje tried to escape, but the people in town caught her and brought
her before the city magistrates, who questioned her several times and sentenced
her to death. A few days later the city executioner strangled her in public outside the town hall on
Dam's square
They transported her body to the Volewijck, a field on the northern shore of the river
the IJ. There she was hung on a pole with the axe next to her head.

In 1664 Rembrandt was almost sixty years old. His second wife had died and he
was in financial straits. He was living in a very modest house on the Rozengracht in
Amsterdam. When he heard of Elsje's fate he had rowed himself to the Volewijck
on the very day of her death. The old master made two sober drawings of her:
one in profile and one full-face. Her innocent face is striking, showing
disbelief as well as resignation.

This work is officially known as: A woman hanging on a gibbet and is shown in the
Metropolitain Museum Of Art New York

The Volewijck headland has been used as a gallows field since 1360. The place was chosen strategically. From the river the IJ, at that time the most important sailing route to Amsterdam, it was clearly visible from the center of the city. In this way the citizens and visitors to the city were put off. They knew their cruel fate when they committed a serious crime.

I spent my childhood in Amsterdam North and never heard about this history. Until now..
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