Monday, 4 October 2010


E.G. (Bert) van Heusden1901-1983
Doctor, painter, poet and linocut printer
In 1586 permission was granted to build a house and a decoy to catch wild ducks on a newly formed sandbank in the immense Dutch river delta. First inhabitants were tenants Dirk Ariensz. Bisdommer and his son. 20 years before the first dikes were constructed to claim new land in the river Maas.

Other parts of the island and later adjacent sandbanks were also embanked and made dry (poldered). The Dutch way, claiming and reclaiming land, colonizing and working it. 60 years later a first church was build around a thriving agricultural community.

The Island grew slowly and moved naturally into the direction of the North sea. Thus blocking the passageway between Brielle and Maassluis, two of the Netherlands oldest cities. A road was build across the island to connect new ferry heads. New communities came to life. The island was named Rozenburg. The village, with a church, cemetery, school, village hall and doctors house: Blankenburg.

The wild western part of the Island was mainly formed by the sea after the digging and completion of the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway) in 1872. Rotterdam's canalized outlet to the North Sea. This part of the island was called de Beer (the bear) also known as Bird Island. In the 1920’s some 150 species of birds were counted here.
This bird and wildlife sanctuary world famous in the Netherlands. Jac.P. Thijsse, Dutch naturalist and Verkade Album contributor, wrote about it. A nature reserve in the heart of one of the world’s busiest parts and ports.

Until the 1960’s. Most of the island was evacuated, farmhouses demolished and all was covered with 6 meters of sand to create Europoort: the world’s largest seaport of Rotterdam.

The sad thing about progression is that it is unstoppable. A society, a whole world and way of living vanished. Were once farmers farmed, people loved, died and were burried now endless rows of oil storage tanks and refineries dominate the horizon and mammoth ships dock.

There are not many pictures left of the old island situation. Some maps, of course. Everything is mapped in the Netherlands. Some drawings and some old photo’s. This Google Earth photo showing how man is capable of changing his environment.

Then, some years ago I haggled from a second hand bookshop dealer a bundle of small linocuts. On the other side of the country.

Very elegant and artistic pictures. Farmhouses, a ferry-dam, a church, the river Maas. The cover page also cut in linoleum in stylish Art Deco characters: Een land onder het mes (A land under the knife). The makers signature a mystery. Only last week his identity was revealed to me..
Linoleum Snedes en Druk van E.G. van Heusden. When you know it you see it and can read it. Bert van Heusden after medical school started his career in 1926 as the Islands doctor. As I did exactly 50 years later. Other Island. The cover and title of his album a clever and humorous clue to both his artistic and professional careers.

An estimate is he made the prints around 1930. I have no idea of the edition size of the album. This one is numbered 04.
He was an amateur painter and wrote poetry as well. His painting was regarded professional and his poetry during his lifetime highly respected and loved.

In later life doctor van Heusden specialized in rheumathic diseases and disorders. Bert van Heusden died in Arnhem in 1983.
Could he have foreseen cutting in linoleum and printing his images of a 400 year old landscape on thin Japan paper that was to disappear forever only 30 years later?

To honor him I show you all of his 12 chosen and vanished monuments of

BLANKENBURG (1568-1965)

You are invited to leave a comment when you enjoyed this posting as I did making it or otherwise found the reading interesting.
Double mouse-click on most pictures for larger images
If you are really interested: these prints are for sale, matted and framed, contact me at:


  1. I had to read this twice to make sure it said what I thought it did. A quite extraordinary story you tell here. I like the way you tie in the history and the landscape. I just wonder how you came to identify him. It is always the same with signatures. It can take years. You must be quite old...

    I like the linocuts too. Interesting the way he was both doctor and printmaker. He sounds a bit like Carl Rotky.

  2. Hello Charles, it's always nice to receive (positive) feedback. I think such prints/ pictures gain more interest, understanding and "value" when you try placing them into the frame of time and history. Before I dug in they were just 12 nice pictures.
    I emailed to a local historian and he recognized the maker in just one of the prints. The posting has already been picked up by a local archive that has shown much interest in the historical value of the set not known before.

  3. A terrific set of lino cuts and the history behind it also a great link. Thanks for publishing them even if my commnets are years later

    1. Thank you ! It's always nice to receive comments . Even years later. There's a lot of work in these postings. even when they're small articles. So: very much appreciated.