Netherlands - Expo Paris 1925

Netherlands at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1925
Architect(s) : J. F. Staal

Let us return to Holland, which, at least on the Cours-la-Reine, borders on Czechoslovakia. Obviously, the Dutch pavilion is not an exact copy of one of those old houses that line the canals of Amsterdam or that sleep around the Vivier in The Hague. I still remember the pout of the architects with whom I visited Holland last year and who, pointing out to me modern houses, but of archaic style, characterized them with the word "renaissancistes". No, the pavilion built by Mr Staal on the banks of the Seine is not renaissancist. And this is what distinguishes the spirit of 1925 from that of 1900.

In 1900, the Dutch architect, like the other architects of the Rue des Nations, would have felt obliged to copy an old model. In 1925 the Dutch architect, like those from other countries who met in Paris, acts in a synthetic manner. He does not enumerate, he suggests. He does not give a literal translation, but by equivalence. This is how the painter Van der Heyden proceeded in the seventeenth century when he painted a cityscape. Wanting to give the impression of the Heerengracht canal, its quays and houses, he did not draw a complete and detailed panorama, but only showed a piece of pink brick facade reflected in the water, at the point where the canal turns away and hides under the single arch of a bridge. Likewise Mr. Staal has not fallen into the trap of reconstructing a house in the city he knows so well, but he has managed to evoke a typical effect by using real, solid and durable materials to give the idea of a house from the past that has withstood the test of time and mankind, by bringing the bricks from his country to the site by barge, and by repointing them in the same way as they know how to repoint there, by creating, thanks to the thickness of the walls, the colour of the woodwork, the depth of the stained glass windows, an intimacy truly worthy of the Dutch ideal, by digging in front of the house two pools set with a parapet of bricks of the same shade, and in the water of which one contemplates, as in a mirror, the modern face of Holland. By such means, even more than by sculpting at the top of the pink gable the brilliant and polychrome coat of arms of the United Provinces, he succeeded in evoking them.

L'Illustration - 1925

The Holland pavilion, located in the Cours la Reine, is not an exhibition space, but a demonstration of the synthesis of the decorative arts, under the aegis of the architect (M. Staal). Several sculptors, glassmakers, ironworkers and ceramists coordinated their efforts. This pavilion is remarkable for its high roof, its red brick walls, and a small pagoda which is reflected in two rectangular basins.

As for the various exhibits: furniture, glassware, ceramics, textiles, art books, etc., they are placed in the rooms of the Esplanade and the Grand Palais, designed by the architect Wydeveld, who tried to harmonise all these heterogeneous elements.

Almost one hundred and fifty renowned Dutch artists participated in the exhibition for the decorative arts themselves. The industrial art did not necessarily bring together as many authors, but, if it is not as well represented, the few specimens exhibited are, it must be admitted, quite successful.

©La Science et la Vie - 1925