In 1900 the Amsterdam born painter Willem Witsen stayed in Dordrecht for a couple of weeks, because he loved its light. He was not the first one to be fascinated by the Dordrecht light, as other painters before him, like Turner and Whistler, had come to my hometown to depict the city for the very same reason.
Witsen made a series of paintings and etchings of the houses on the canals, and in particular those on the Voorstraat. Early in the morning (about half past five) he went out on his rowing boat and set himself to work. He liked the peace and quiet of this neighbourhood. Fortunately the beautiful light is still there, just as the tranquility of the streets so near the hustle and bustle of the centre.
This morning I have gone out (not that early) and tried to make some pictures of the same houses. Of course, things have changed but not the overall impression. In order to imitate Witsen’s point of view I had to sit on the ground or go down the ancient steps. It was difficult to photograph the exact houses, but I have been able to capture the atmosphere.
Below you see Voorstraatshaven VI, one of the etchings Witsen made. With permission of the Dordrechts Museum that holds some fabulous Witsen paintings and etchings.