This last week, Princess Beatrix opened an exhibition of sculptures at House Doorn near Utrecht. The exhibition is entitled “Resistance and Sadness in the picture” and features work from Germany and the Netherlands – the former representing links with World War I and the latter with World War II. During WWI, Holland was actually a neutral country and at the end of the war Kaiser Wilhelm II fled there and settled in House Doorn in 1920 staying until his death in 1941.
The house even before the exhibition contained many pieces of art and fine silver that the Kaiser brought from Berlin and Potsdam. The house interior, now a museum is very much laid out as it was in the Kaiser’s day. It was not only the ability to surround himself with the past that attracted him the to House; it had splendidly laid out gardens in the English style. The Kaiser was a keen gardener, and he added a pinetum and a rose garden dedicated to his first wife, Auguste Victoria.
It is, perhaps, ironic that the exhibition includes works by the German artist, Käthe Kollwitz. The Kaiser and his wife considered Käthe to be a socially inspired artist and not one they would have given house room to! Käthe Kollwitz was born in what is now Kaliningrad in Russia, and her early works represented the realistic effects of poverty, hunger and war on the working classes. Though her later works are more impressionistic, and she tends to be considered as an impressionist.
In an exhibition of her work in the house, the Princess was also able to see the original plans and drawings for the German war memorial in Berlin where the Princess laid a wreath on her last visit there as Queen. This is also not the first time she has visited House Doorn, in 2014, Princess Beatrix opened the specially designed pavilion. This time she was looking at the sketches and studies of the National Monument in Amsterdam and the monument for her grandmother Queen Wilhelmina.