March 11, 2020

Van Gogh goes for 15 million euro in Maastricht

Filed under: Art,History by Orangemaster @ 4:36 pm

‘Peasant woman in front of a farmhouse’ (‘Paysanne devant une chaumière’ in French), an 1885 work by Vincent van Gogh that was bought back in the 1960s in the UK for about 5 euro, just sold for 15 million euro at the world’s premier art fair TEFAF in Maastricht, Limburg.

It’s one of those stories were someone had left the painting in a cellar for years until a local antique merchant bought it at an auction for next to nothing. One year later, the painting was sold to a journalist for about 53 euro; he showed it the Tate Gallery director and it was deemed to be a Van Gogh. The journalist then auctioned it off in 1970 at Sotheby’s in New York City where it fetched USD 110.000 (97.455 euro).

In 2001 the work was sold for the last time at Sotheby’s for 1.5 million euro. Today, at 15 million euro, it’s the most expensive artwork ever sold at the TEFAF, although not all sales at the annual event are made public.

(Link:, image

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February 19, 2020

Vintage Dutch tech site calls it a day

Filed under: History,Online,Technology by Orangemaster @ 5:50 pm

Webwereld, one of the oldest tech news sites of the Netherlands, is going to cease to exist. We enjoyed using them as a source for subjects such as high speed wireless internet (wimax), NL-alert (national alarm system), net neutrality and quite a few more.

The tech-savvy site had been around since 1995, and editorial staff were sent packing about a month ago. The site will go offline on 1 March, and its owner, IDG, will apparently continue on with business sites.

Way back in in the day, having a 24-hour online news service about IT was a big deal and quite new, at least in such a small country and language region as the Netherlands. One of the cool things they did was launch ‘lektober’ (‘leaktober’) in 2011, which featured company data leaks back when companies didn’t quite know how to deal with them (they still don’t, but OK).

Thanks for the good stories, Webwereld!


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January 8, 2020

Dutch book about ‘Depressing Destinations’ out in January

Filed under: Architecture,History,Literature by Orangemaster @ 1:44 pm

Publishing his second book roughly entitled ‘Depressing Destinations’ (‘Treurtrips’), journalist and photographer Mark van Wonderen decided to show the Dutch what a good chunk of their country really looks like.

“The Netherlands is a beautiful country that is neatly divided up. Ever square metre has been carefully arranged and countless zoning plans have been drawn up. When a place risks falling into disrepair, municipalities and project jump at the chance to fix the situation.”

Van Wonderen will show you half-abandoned malls, tacky buildings and lots of concrete in the wrong place: the dark side of quaint Dutch design is ‘treurnis’ (sad, gloomy and slowly falling apart). And he thinks it’s beautiful. In 2018, he wrote ‘Chin. Ind. Spec. Rest., a disappearing Dutch phenomenon’ about the last 1097 Chinese Indonesian restaurants in the country, the first four runs of which have completely sold out.

We’ll be at the launch!

(Photo of cover by Mark van Wonderen)


December 25, 2019

Christmas break at 24oranges HQ

Filed under: Food & Drink,General,History by Orangemaster @ 1:21 pm

We’ve been busy this year to the point of having a tough time posting this fall, but we should be back on top of things for 2020. It is Christmas day as I write this, and the plan is to eat Italian food, drink, listen to Christmas music and play with the little houses above, courtesy of a supermarket chain that has been handing them out.

Although many people complained about the plastic, after work on December 24 I was handed an entire box of these houses (the special offer was over) and could not resist taking as many home as I could. I decided to make a traditional Dutch winter scene for you, complete with an ‘oliebollen’ stand, a food usually eaten on New Year’s Eve, and ‘koek en zopie’, cake and a hot beverage with alcohol usually enjoyed after ice skating. It’s not winter at all here in Amsterdam, it’s 9 degrees!

As always, co-blogger Branko is working on his list of favourite stories of 2019, which should be online before the year is out.

Thanks to everyone for reading us and sharing the weird and fun news of 24oranges, and Happy Holidays!

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November 14, 2019

Van Gogh painting finds its way back home

Filed under: Art,History by Orangemaster @ 9:00 pm

An early Vincent Van Gogh painting was recently bought for 2.8 million euro at Sotheby’s in New York City by the Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum together with the Drents Museum in Assen, Drenthe. The auction house has estimated the painting would fetch a mere 650,000. but considering the price that was paid, there’s was quite a bit of interesting in acquiring the painting. The money used to buy the painting comes from funds and lotteries, which acts as art subsidies.

Experts claim that there are only five Van Gogh artworks from his ‘Drenthe period’ and now they are all in the Netherlands. The Van Gogh Museum had three of them, and the Drentse Museum had one. The newly acquired painting, ‘Onkruid verbrandende boer’ (roughly ‘Farmer Burning Weeds’), will be exhibited back and forth between the two museums.

(Link and image:

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November 13, 2019

Stereotypes about women and migrants persist in Dutch schoolbooks

Filed under: General,History,Literature by Orangemaster @ 4:06 pm

After analysing 16 mathematics books and 17 Dutch-language textbooks used by secondary school students in their first year, Judi Mesman, a researcher from Leiden and her team concluded that they were full of stereotypes about women and people with an ethnic background. As you might expect, men were in greater numbers, depicted in real jobs like scientist and women were not as present and if so, often doing motherly things.

Let’s get into that one first. Is anybody surprised? Probably not, and it’s an easy fix for the future. It’s also easy to understand and prove that kids are sensitive to subtle messages about sex and stereotypes, shaping their world view. However, the truth is, Dutch society has tons of women working part-time – the highest level of part-time workers in Europe and beyond – and being the main carers of children and the elderly, earning less, and not making a serious enough appearance in the boardroom, let alone in other male-dominated jobs. Is it a stereotype or actual social commentary? And will depicting more equality change a system based on men working full-time and women working part-time, even without having children? I’m not optimistic, but feel free to try. Show men doing housework and being fathers instead of babysitting their own children, and show women doing real full-time jobs, not simply standing in as diversity hires.

As for what the Dutch call ‘non-Western migrants’, implying Turkish, Moroccan and the likes (funny enough including Mexicans, but not the Japanese IIRC – that’s a whole other discussion), they are underrepresented and shown in what we used to call ‘blue collar jobs’ as opposed to ‘white collar jobs’, to use classic stereotypes. Ask someone from Suriname in a good job how many times they’ve been mistaken for the cleaner. Sad but true, this is the reality in the Netherlands, which makes these images closer to reality, and I can imagine more painful than hopeful.

Good on the Dutch for wanting to create books with less stereotypes in them, but then there’s always wonderful authors like Sanne de Bakker who wrote a children’s book on Suriname conflating discrimination with facts or even a colouring book for children featuring Hitler that was casually sold at a Dutch drugstore chain.

Please teach children how to count, so that women can make an effort to be financially independent (still 60% are not) rather than rely on a partner, often a man, who might decide to show their maths skills by paring up with someone who is able and willing to be their equal.


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October 21, 2019

Photoshoot with original Leeuwenhoek microscope and specimens

Filed under: History,Photography,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:22 am

Specimens, including cows’ optic nerves, sections of cork and elder, and ‘dried phlegm from a barrel’, prepared and viewed by the early Dutch businessman and scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek have been reunited with one of his original microscopes for a serious photoshoot, recapturing the look of seventeenth century science and recording the moment with high-resolution colour photographs for the first time ever.

Last month, the specimens were sent from the Royal Society in the UK to Leiden and the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave (the Dutch national museum of the history of science and medicine) in their original packages to be reunited with an original Leeuwenhoek microscope. Science and art historian Sietske Fransen, current leader of the Max Planck Research Group ‘Visualizing Science in Media Revolutions’ at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History orchestrated the event. She conducted readings of Leeuwenhoek’s letters, while photographer Wim van Egmond and Rijksmuseum Boerhaave curator Tiemen Cocquyt carefully filmed through the priceless original silver microscope. In combining words and images, the team hope to arrive at a better understanding of Leeuwenhoek’s groundbreaking observations and his use of artists to capture microscope views.

Dutch businessman and scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek from Delft, one of the world’s first microbiologists, had a collection of specimens including cows’ optic nerves, sections of cork and elder, and ‘dried phlegm from a barrel’, which flew back across the North Sea from the Royal Society to Leiden and the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave—the Dutch national museum of the history of science and medicine–where they were reunited with an original Leeuwenhoek microscope. The museum provided the opportunity for taking photographs through the original microscope, as well as the shooting of moving images.

Although Leeuwenhoek’s specimens have been imaged before, this is the first time that the latest digital techniques have been applied to the surviving specimens.

(Link:, Portrait of Van Leeuwenhoek by Jan Verkolje (1650-1693))

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August 4, 2019

Lost poetry about De Jordaan found on tape

Filed under: History,Technology by Orangemaster @ 2:54 pm

Dutchman Wisse Beets bought a second-hand car to go on holiday, and bought some tapes [aka compact cassettes or cassettes for the tape player in the car. To his delight, one of the tapes he bought had an elderly woman’s poetry from the 1980s on it about the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, and now Beets wants to know more about Coby, the voice on the tape.

Coby was probably born in 1926, making her about 93 today, as she says he was 14 when WWII broke out. Since the tape was bought for 0,10 euro in a second-hand shop, she’s most probably deceased and her stuff was brought there to be sold. She tells of her life in the Jordaan and of the cafes she frequented in an honest and beautiful manner that Beets couldn’t ignore. He decided to go to many of the cafes she mentioned to find anybody who might know who she is, but could not find anybody who knew who the mysterious Coby.

Then Coby went down to famous Jordaan cafe De Rooie Nelis which has been around since 1937 and where owner Sien and her husband Gerrit recognised Coby and called her ‘Kleine Coby’ (‘Little Coby’), claiming that she is in fact deceased. Sien mentions a few anecdotes like the men in her life, including the fact that she has two sons that could still be around.

The film is in Dutch, which is why we wrote about it in English. I’ve talked and drank with Sien, she is the queen of the Jordaan bar none.


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May 10, 2019

Amsterdam marketing appropriates another castle

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 4:53 pm

Back in 2013, Muiderslot (Muiden Castle) was rebranded to Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot, which is 16 kilometres from Amsterdam Central Station, closer if you leave from the East of Amsterdam, and most people here thought it was ridiculous.

And now, in the spirit of peeing on something and claiming it is part of your territory, Het Loo Palace near Apeldoorn, Gelderland, 88 kilometres from Amsterdam, is being branded as the ‘Versailles of Amsterdam’.

Just what Amsterdam needs, to be compared to Paris. Even Versailles is in the city of Versailles, not Paris. It’s been ages and I’m still miffed that one of the classic songs about Amsterdam, ‘Geef mij maar Amsterdam’ talks more about Paris than Amsterdam, but that’s because many people Dutch or otherwise don’t know all the lyrics.

Het Loo is nowhere near Amsterdam and it’s beautiful enough not to need any Amsterdam stamp of approval. As well, calling everything Amsterdam is incorrect and incredibly arrogant, a Dutch cardinal sin if there ever was one. We’ve already had to deal with the world-famous Keukenhof being referred to Amsterdam Flowers, Zandvoort as Amsterdam Beach and a whole bunch of other idiotic rebranding ideas, all of it in English as well.

It’s bad enough Holland is used as a synonym for the Netherlands, why is this even necessary? Make it stop.

(Link: , Photo by Wikipedia, some rights reserved)

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April 24, 2019

Utrecht’s Dom church attic open to the public

Filed under: Architecture,Dutch first,History,Religion by Orangemaster @ 11:24 pm

On 5 May, the attic of the Dom Church (“Domkerk”, in Dutch) in Utrecht will be open to the public for the very first time. And as of that date, people can enjoy one-hour tours every Sunday starting at 14:30. RTV Utrecht went and took a peek:

The Dom Church is about 32 metres high, up to the highest part of the choir vault. Half way up there’s a gallery where nobody has ever been before until now. Utrecht’s well-known symbol was once the Netherlands’ largest church, but the nave collapsed in a storm in 1674 and has never been rebuilt, leaving the tower isolated from the east end.

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