Work, pray and admire

A new view on art and Calvinism

400 years Synod of Dordt – In 1618/1619, Dordrecht, or Dordt as it was referred to in English at the time, was the centre of Calvinist Europe for six months. More than a hundred professors, politicians and clergymen from the Netherlands and abroad met in Dordrecht for a unique church assembly. This Synod of Dordt had far-reaching consequences for the Dutch Republic’s national politics, church life and culture. The Canons of Dordt for instance, were drafted to lay down a strict religious course. It was also decided to order the first official Dutch translation of the Bible, the Statenvertaling (States Translation). The Synod reinforced the position of Calvinism in the Republic all along the line. (English)

Work, pray and admire
A new view on art and Calvinism

11 November 2018 – 26 May 2019 – Dordrechts Museum

Starting in the 17th century – the Dutch Golden Age – the Republic’s political elite consisted of Calvinists. They displayed their wealth and social status with large mansions, stylish interiors and splendid art. However, art and Calvinism, do they really match? Calvinism is rather associated with frugality, austerity and thriftiness, whereas art links up with prosperity and luxury. What was the real nature of the relationship between the Calvinists and art?

The exhibition Work, pray and admire unravels stereotypes of art and Calvinism and refutes some persistent myths. It reveals the relationship between Calvinism and art in a wider context that includes literature, music and church architecture. Admire the works by painters from the 17th to the 20th century, such as Ferdinand Bol, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. Photo and video artist Ahmet Polat introduces a contemporary translation of the notion of Calvinism in our present-day society.

bios (Bible)

11 November 2018 – 2 June 2019 – Het Hof van Nederland

In 1618/1619, Dordrecht, or Dordt as it was referred to in English at the time, was the centre of Europe for six months during the Synod of Dordt, a unique church assembly. An important decision taken in the Synod was to officially order a translation of the Bible into Dutch from the original Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek languages. After years of translation work the first Statenbijbel (States Bible) was printed in 1637.

To honour the fourth centennial of the Synod, the German art collective robotlab programmed a robot that will write out the complete biblical text of the Statenvertaling (States Translation). Just like a monk in a scriptorium who transcribes each individual character, the robot writes in calligraphy over three million letters in real ink on a roll of paper of more than 1000 metres length.

With its task in bios [bible]* the robot stands between human handwriting and mechanical production of the printing press. This art installation uses writing to combine religion and scientific rationalism. It raises questions concerning belief and technological progress and thus focuses on the connection of two cultural systems that are fundamental to society.

* Bios means Basic Input/Output System, the first vital operating system that begins to work when a computer is being started up.

View website (Dutch)

Printing on demand
400 years Dordt and the States Bible

11 November 2018 ­– 2 June 2019 – Het Hof van Nederland

The Synod of Dordrecht ordered the first official Dutch translation of the Bible: the Statenbijbel (States Bible). Bibles in Dutch already existed but were criticised for their reliability. A new translation from the original languages Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic would be the answer. The first edition of this new translation was published in 1637.

Biblia dat is de gantsche Heilige Schrifture - gebr. Keur - 1714 (Tripbijbel) - Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap

In Dordrecht, the States Bible was printed and published by a family of printers called Keur. Their so-called Keur Bijbel became famous for its high quality – not least since the Dutch word keur implies top quality. Customers from all parts of the Netherlands came to Dordrecht to design their own, unique Bible. It could be tailored in size and style, starting at a standard simple version to a highly personalised, richly illustrated edition.

In the exhibition Design your own bible, the visitor learns about the Keur family and their printing workshop. The richness and variety of the Keur Bible, the detailed bible maps and beautiful prints are central to the exhibition.

View website (Dutch)

Sluit het Verborgen Museum