I have had in my possession for many years a print, so many years that I do not remember how or where I acquired this print. I know that the print shows the meeting of the Leprozengracht canal and the Houtgracht canal. Waterlooplein was created in 1882 when the Leprozengracht and Houtgracht canals were filled in. The square is named after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This print is titled (Houtgracht, 1870, Waterlooplein)and numbered (27/100) and signed (Cornelis Spook 1958). Now-a-days with the internet, one can find information on art prints and other various things. I found an image (wonderfully hand coloured) of the print I have (uncoloured) and thus have finally gained access to some information in regards to the artist. Well maybe. It is held in the City of Amsterdam Archives.
Here is where it gets confusing/interesting. I now know that the original etching was an image of an 1880 photograph. The title of the print has remained the same, the date attributed to production is circa 1880, the number etched on the print (1958) remains, but the artist name has been scratched out. The new found information attributes the print to C. Ghost (tekenaar in the original Dutch). Why the changes? I do not know. Does 1958 mean a year or is it something else. Again I do not know. And from Spook to Ghost? Questions which I cannot answer. Possibly some one can. Its’ fiscal value unknown. For now I will just enjoy the print with all its’ mysteries included.
I have since publishing this post been contacted by a descendent of Cornelis Spook. He was born in 1900 and worked most of his life for the Handelsblad newspapers. Etching was his hobby which he did in the evenings and free time. He specialized in architectural etchings of buildings and sites in Amsterdam some of which were used to rebuild and restore bombed buildings after WWII.
As one can tell from some of my previous posts I love the Welsh hills and the Scottish Highlands. So next is one more image of Wales in my collection that I love. This watercolour was done in 1862 and shows a homestead in the hills near Barmouth. The smoke rises from the chimney into the cool evening air. No electricity here. Early to rise to tend the sheep and the crops and late to lie down for rest. A life of toil and back-breaking work. Possibly tomorrow will see the building of a stone wall or the cutting of wood for winter or the harvesting of vegetables from the garden or even miles of hills to cover to mind the sheep. Here a man lives by the work of his hands. A hard life but a satisfying one indeed.