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Pieter Jelles Troelstra
Leeuwarden Lonkt

Nieuwestad 113, Leeuwarden
Late summer 1890

Living room setting of lawyer / writer / politician Troelstra, together with his first wife Sjoukje Bokma de Boer (pseudonym writer Nienke van Hichtum).


The marriage is not going well. There are tensions. Pieter Jelles Troelstra will not stay in Leeuwarden for long either. Troelstra moved to Amsterdam in 1893. The following year he was one of the founders of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party (SDAP).

For this photo image, the actual furniture (!) of Troelstra could be used (year of origin of the furniture is not entirely consistent with the suggestion photo image, but the fact that it really was Troelstra’s furniture was leading). These were unpacked for the first time after fifteen years from the storage of Tresoar in Winschoten. I also had to photograph them there because I could not take them with me on location. In addition, the location does not even exist. The image had to be built entirely from separate photographed elements, parts of walls, floor, wallpaper, curtains from Het Stadhouderlijkhof and glass and lead from my own home, in order to regain the atmosphere and correct windows from when Troelstra lived here. The building still exists but I could not / was not allowed to take pictures there. The view is from a building next to 113, so that is not much of the view that Troelstra must have had. Also brought back to the atmosphere of that time. So modern elements removed and replaced.

Pieter Jelles Troelstra, Dutch lawyer, journalist and politician best known for wanting to declare the socialist revolution in November 1918.

Pieter Jelles Troelstra is mainly remembered as a socialist leader, as the man who, with flaming speeches and articles, called on the exploited and disenfranchised proletariat to organize itself and to fight against the ruling class. He was an enthusiastic politician and a passionate poet. He wrote proudly about his freedom-loving, but poor Friesland. Generations of Frisians cherished his poems.

In 1888 Troelstra married Sjoukje Maria Diderika Bokma de Boer, who became known as a children’s book writer under the pseudonym Nienke van Hichtum. They had two children, Dieuwke and Jelle Troelstra. After his studies, Pieter Jelles Troelstra established himself as a lawyer in Leeuwarden. He became a member of the Frisian People’s Party in 1890, but after a long struggle decided to devote his time entirely to the socialist movement. In 1892 the regent Emma and the 12-year-old Queen Wilhelmina visited Leeuwarden. When the socialists demonstrated against this visit, anti-socialist riots broke out. Troelstra stood up for fellow party members whose homes had been looted by orangists.

In 1893 he left Friesland and moved to Amsterdam. As a journalist, propagandist and politician, Troelstra expected to be able to achieve more in the west of the country. The beginning was very difficult: the SDAP, which he co-founded in 1894, grew only very slowly. But in the end, Troelstra’s decision to move turned out to be the right one. Nevertheless, the bond with Friesland would always remain very strong.


The series Leeuwarden Lonkt
Maartje Roos has captured fragments from the lives of famous Leeuwarders in a contemporary manner. Recognizable locations and elements of the current city have been used to go back in time. The Stadhouderlijk Hof, for example, can be seen in its old form by using modern photo techniques and the still-present parts of buildings in the city.

In total, so far, 33 extras have posed in historical costumes. Three dogs, three horses, a cat and birds have appeared before the lens. Special ballet clothing had to be made. And it has been quite a quest to get the right ballet hall, pram, grand piano, mirror and car from that time. Even the actual household effects of Troelstra were unpacked from the Tresoar store in Winschoten for the first time after fifteen years.

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