Work, pray, admire

New views on Calvinism and art

In 1618/1619 the city of Dordrecht organized the first and only international Synod in Early Modern Europe. At the Synod of Dordt, professors, ministers and politicians from Great Britain, Switzerland, the Dutch Republic and several German states gathered to solve theological questions concerning predestination, the church order and the future of Calvinism in Europe and beyond. In 2018/2019 Dordrecht will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordt with an international civic program which focuses on hospitality, Calvinist identity and language. These themes are inspired by the outcomes of the Synod; Dordrecht created an atmosphere to build a European network of Calvinists and decided to issue a new translation of the Bible in Dutch, known as the States Bible.

Within the program an international exhibition entitled Work, pray, admire. New views on Calvinism and art will be hosted by the Dordrechts Museum from 10 November 2018 until May 2019. The exhibition follows the same period as the original Synod, and will look at the Synod as a political, cultural and religious event in the Netherlands. Moreover, Dordrecht had become a center of Calvinism, and its Canons marked the beginning of an international community of Calvinists in Europe and across the world.

We consider art to be a diverse subject. Within the exhibition we will show Bibles (15 exquisite States Bibles, a majority from the Dutch Royal Collections and several from the United States) but also Old Dutch Master Paintings (Ferdinand Bol, Pieter Saenredam), silver, music, literature and science (theology, geography).

Work, pray and admire is the first exhibition in the Netherlands which deals with Calvinists as a group. At the moment an ongoing discussion in Dutch society about the Calvinist nature of the population is part of a national debate. In the last year alone, three television series have dealt with the subject. Moreover, we work together with several Reformed and/or Calvinist partners such as the Main Church in Dordrecht and Refo500 to make this exhibition attractive to both religious and art historic visitors.

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