Liberty! The Relief of Leiden 1574-2011

Monday October 03 2011

This fall Museum De Lakenhal presents a major exhibition on The Relief of Leiden. A presentation featuring historical facts, stories and artefacts with a new contemporary historic piece created by the distinguished and famous photographer Erwin Olaf.

De tentoonstelling
For the last four centuries, each year the city of Leiden celebrates the liberation from the Spanish by the Beggars (‘Geuzen’) on October 3, 1574. The present exhibition relates how, in 400 years time, this major hisotrical moment and fact grew to be the largest local people’s feast in The Netherlands. Museum De Lakenhal has joined forces with the October 3 Society of Leiden (‘Leidse 3 October Vereeniging’) to present an ambitious interactive family exhibition, full of stories and artefacts, partially donated by or on loan from the people of the city of Leiden themselves. Visitors can also participate in the exhibition by means of a Standard Project (‘Vaandelproject’). In both the Museum De Lakenhal and the city of Leiden there will be a festive programme of acitivities and events.

New historic piece by Erwin Olaf
For more than 25 years Erwin Olaf has been named as one of the most renowned photographers in The Netherlands. By commission from Museum De Lakenhal and Universiteit Leiden Olaf created the contemporary historic piece ‘The Siege and Relief of Leiden’. Olaf used inhabitants of the city of Leiden as his models for this piece, with the photoshoot taking place in the Church of Saint Peter (‘Pieterskerk’). That very location also features as the interior for the 19th century historic piece ‘The Divine Service after the Relief of Leyden’ (‘De Gebedsdienst na Ontzet Leyden’) by Jan Hendrik van de Laar.
Erwin Olaf took inspiration from historic events, facts and figures, from exisisting historic pieces and new scientific material concerning “October 3”, that was partially sourced from the research project: Tales of the Revolt. Memory, Oblivion and Identity in the Low Countries, 1566-1700 conducted by the Historical Research Institute of Universiteit Leiden. This commission piece is Olaf’s largest to date: a photographic composition measuring approximately 2 x 3 meter, featuring the main historic characters in a dramatic scene setting. Olaf also added contemporary details like an i-pod carried on a historic costume or an S&M leather belt attached to the armory of a Spanish soldier.
Apart from this monumental contemporary historic piece which will be on permanent display at Museum De Lakenhal, Erwin Olaf also created two still lifes and six portraits of historic figures such as Magdalena Moons, Jan van Hout en Jan van der Does. These photographs will be shown from September 29 through January 8 at the Library of Universiteit Leiden.

Johannes Vermeer Prijs 2011 awarded to Erwin Olaf
On October 31, 2011 the Johannes Vermeer Prijs (‘Johannes Vermeer Award’), the Dutch national award for the arts will be awarded to Erwin Olaf by Secretary of State for the Department of Education, Culture and Sciences Halbe Zijlstra. The jury praises Olaf for his extensive and unique body of work and his ability to time and time again find new and original ways of expression, both in his free and in his commercial work. According to the jury Erwin Olaf ‘has become the author of a body of work that exuberates passion for the craft [of (art) photography], is exceptionally rich in its quality of imagery and manages to stay flexible and moving freely in its development.’
Body of work publication by Erwin Olaf - OWN
Also on October 31, 2011 Lido publishes OWN on the work of Erwin Olaf. OWN presents an overview of the full photographic works by Erwin Olaf. The book also features his most recently completed series and never before published works.
Erwin Olaf’s photographs implicitly show that which is often not spoken of, disregarded or is too reclacitrant to be easily documented. Often with vigorous disregard for taboos or conventions Olaf’s work is marked by sharp and keen intuition for an aesthetic and highly stylised vocabulary of image(s) bordering on perfection.
OWN is presented in a standard edition – for sale in the general bookstores – and a deluxe edition. Both editions will be on sale in the museum shop of Museum De Lakenhal.
Hardcover standard edition: 368 pages, 28 x 37 cm, € 49,90
Hardcover limited deluxe edition, signed and numbered: 368 pages, 50 x 70 cm, € 1.500,00
For further information concerning OWN, please refer to:

On the occasion of the exhibition a lavishly illustrated book based on the collection of Museum De Lakenhal will be publised: ‘Leidens Ontzet. Vrijheidsstrijd & Volksfeest ‘ (‘The Relief of Leiden. The Battle for Liberty and A People’s Feast’). Author: Jori Zijlmans, conserver of history at Museum De Lakenhal. Publisher: Primavera Pers, € 19,50. The book is available in the museum shop.

Museum activities for all ages
During the exhibition ‘Liberty! The Relief of Leiden 1574-2011’ on every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, between 1 and 6 PM visitors can create their own standards at the museum. These standards (or ‘vaandels’ as these are called in Dutch) are coloured pieces of fabric mounted horizontally on a pole, decorated with emblems, figures and inscriptions detailing a country, society, union or institution. From of old these standards have been in use as a sign of recognition and identification for a group of soldiers. From the 19th century onwards, the use has shifted towards the insignia or identifier for a non-military civil society, union or organisation. At Museum De Lakenhal you can seize the opportunity to create your very own personal standard for your society, union, organisation or family. For a full programme list of planned acitivities, please refer to:


Note to the editor / not for publication:
For review copies of OWN or interview requests for Erwin Olaf, please contact: Jolanda van Dijk (Publiciteit Lido), t: 020 305 98 33 / e:

Afdeling Presentatie, Mia van Iterson/ Lydia Vermond