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The Making of The Relief of Leiden


From the 16th to 19th century, the Siege and Relief of Leiden has often been depicted, both in word and image. In the 20th century, the historical piece as an artistic genre disappeared.
Museum De Lakenhal and Leiden University turned to renowned photographer Erwin Olaf to breathe new life into this tradition. His 21st century artistic interpretation of the Relief of Leiden (3 October 1574) took shape in one monumental historical piece, a series of portraits and two still lifes. This video visualizes the commission in process and the realization of the final artworks.

The series of a monumental history piece, six figure pieces and two still lifes deals with an important event in the history of The Netherlands: the siege of Leiden by the army of Spain’s Philip II, and the relief of the city by the rebellious Dutch ‘Sea Beggars’ on 3 October 1574. The series is representative of a trend in which lens-based media (photography and video art) explicitly refer to compositions and iconographic formulae that are known from painting.

Cultuurfonds Leiden
Fonds BKVB
Leiden University
Leiden Municipality

Production, camera & editing: Su Tomesen

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