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Famous People from Amsterdam
Vincent van Gogh
(1853-03-30 - 1890-07-29 )
, Address in Amsterdam: Nieuw-Amsterdam, Van Goghstraat 1
I really like documentaries, therefore reality is important to me when I do fiction. It’s often related to my own life, my Dutch background. The art scene in Holland has always attempted to be realistic. The Dutch painters of 400 years ago were meticulously realistic.
Although van Gogh's artwork was unappreciated during his lifetime (he only sold a single painting), today he’s one of the most highly regarded of all painters. Before he began applying brushstrokes of vibrant colours to his canvases, he attempted to present the life of the impoverished (e.g. 'The Potato-Eaters'). In 1888, when van Gogh relocated to the south of France, he found himself impressed by the yellows and reds of the Mediterranean and started utilizing them symbolically to represent his frame of mind (e.g. 'Sunflowers'). He painted such famous pieces as 'Starry Night' and 'Bedroom at Arles'. The artist's tragic life, whose ups and downs he described in a sequence of letters to his brother, ended in suicide.
Rembrandt van Rijn
(1606-07-15 - 1669-10-04 )
, Address in Amsterdam: Jodenbreestraat 4 (Waterlooplein)
Like no other painter before or since, Rembrandt played with dark and light in his paintings, always finding a good balance between the two. An extremely prolific artist, he left a legacy of some 600 paintings, 2,000 drawings and 300 etchings, and is justly reputed as one of the greatest painters of the 17th Century. He was the most gifted etcher of all time to boot. Rembrandt chose biblical scenes, landscapes and animals as the subjects of his paintings, but also painted nearly a hundred self-portraits as well as the portraits of members of his close family. Included among his best works are the huge and spirited 'The Night Watch' (1642), 'Syndics of the Drapers' Guild' (1662), 'Portrait of a Man in a Tall Hat' (1662) and 'The Jewish Bride' (1664).
Benedcto (Baruch) Spinoza
(1632-11-24 - 1677-02-21 )
, Address in Amsterdam: Waterlooplein 41
Also known as Benedictus de Spinoza, he was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese-Jewish origin, born in Amsterdam to a family of converts and nevertheless received an Orthodox Jewish upbringing from his father, who was a merchant and importer. Baruch didn't want to follow in those footsteps, devoting himself to two passions – philosophy and optics. He began working as a lens grinder in order to support himself. Excommunicated from the Jewish community, he probably lived and worked in the school of Franciscus van den Enden, his former Latin teacher. Around 1661, Spinoza moved from Amsterdam to Rijnsburg (near Leiden), and later lived in Voorburg, finally settling in The Hague. His writings include 'A Short Treatise on God', 'Man and His Well-Being' (1662),' A Treatise on the Improvement of Understanding' (1662) and 'Philosophical Principles of Rene Descartes' (1663). Towards the end of his life, he worked on his major philosophical work, 'Ethics', which could only be published posthumously. Spinoza supported relativism, and as a rationalist he preceded the philosophy of Enlightenment. His T'heologico-Political Treatise' (1670) made him infamous with the government and religious authorities. As a wholly rationalistic philosopher, a pantheist and moral relativist, he established the Spinozistic or Naturalistic School of Philosophy. He died from lung illness, caused by glass dust. Interestingly, before the Euro was introduced in the contemporary Netherlands, Spinoza's portrait was on the Dutch 1,000-guilder banknote.
(1929-06-12 - 1945-02-27 )
, Address in Amsterdam: Prinsengracht 263 (Westerkerk)
One of the most talked-about victims of the Shoah, Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who wrote a diary while her family was hiding in Amsterdam from German Nazis during World War II. The last entry is dated August 1st, 1944. After they were arrested on August 4th, Anne and her sister were transported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they both died as a result of typhus. Only their father managed to survive. The first version of Anne's diary was issued in 1947, and the first translation into English was completed in 1952 and published as 'The Diary of a Young Girl'. Since then, it has been translated into upwards of 60 languages and adapted for the stage and screen.
(1913-11-07 - 1960-01-04 )
Amsterdam's concentric canals resemble the circles of hell.
The world knows Camus as one of the outstanding novelists and philosophers of the 20th Century. A man of the pen, he was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature. Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, both coming from France, were prominent figures of Existentialism. Giving rise to the idea of absurdism constituted Camus's most crucial contribution to this philosophy. He began his career with a book titled 'L'envers et L'endroit' (Betwixt and Between, 1937). 1942 saw the publication of two of his most important works, the philosophical essay 'Le Mythe de Sisyphe' (The Myth of Sisyphus) and 'L'etranger' (The Stranger), which was adapted for the screen by Visconti in 1967. He also wrote 'L'homme Revolte' (The Rebel, 1951), La Chute (The Fall, 1956) and 'L'exile et la Royaume' (Exile and the Kingdom, 1957).
Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit
(1686-05-24 - 1736-09-16 )
His name remains immortal for the temperature scale that he invented. This German-Dutch physicist was born in Gdansk (Danzig) in Poland to a merchant family who often changed homes within the Hanseatic League. Daniel's mother was a daughter of a prominent Danzig businessman named Schumann. In the wake of an accident, probably mushroom poisoning, his parents died, and young Fahrenheit found himself in Amsterdam, where he had to take up some training in order to work as a merchant. He discovered an interest in the natural sciences, however, and decided to devote himself to studies and experiments in that field. He went on travelling around the country, settling in 1717 in The Hague, where he ran a glass-blowing business, but also made the barometer, altimeter and thermometer. Starting in 1718, Fahrenheit gave lectures on chemistry in Amsterdam. In 1724, he was admitted as a member of the Royal Society. Due to his usage of mercury, his thermometers were precise, allowing him to adjust his own scale, according to which water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees.
(1813 - 1866 )
A doctor of Jewish-Portuguese origin, he remains especially appreciated as a city planner and one of the most visionary Amsterdammers. His middle-class family settled in the Netherlands in the 17th Century. Samuel was sent to a Latin school, and at the age of 20 began studying medicine in Leiden, graduating with honours in 1839. Having observed the daily habits of his poor patients, he implemented projects to improve their health and hygiene, and the quality of life in Amsterdam in general. In 1847, Sarphati was one of the crucial initiators of waste transport. Determined to stimulate Amsterdam's economic and social recovery, he got involved in politics with an aim to introduce his ambitious city plan, which included the construction of a large exhibition hall at the southern edge of the city. It was modelled upon the Crystal Palace in London. Sarphati's architect, Outshoorn, created an impressive ensemble known as the Palace of People's Industry. Another renowned project of the physician was the prestigious Amstel Hotel, completed in 1867. Sarphati planned to surround this area with villas, grand parks and boulevards, however it was never completed due to a lack of funds. To commemorate his name, Sarphati Park and its monument were designed in Amsterdam in 1885.
Gerard Adriaan Heineken
(1841 - 1893-03-18 )
He was the founder of Heineken, which today is an international beer company and the largest brewery in the Netherlands. Not much of his private life is known, until 1863, when as a 22-year- old man he decided to buy a brewery in Amsterdam and start his own production. His choice was “Den Hoyberg” (also known as The Haystack), for which he paid at that time the equivalent of about 21.80 Euro. He was the first brewer to set up his own laboratory, and even attracted the interest of Louis Pasteur's pupil, Dr. Elion, who joined Heineken in Amsterdam and managed to isolate a yeast strain of great quality known as Heineken A-yeast, which is claimed to be a base for the beer's original taste. Within four years, he had to start building a new brewery. Since 1873, Heineken has been a brand name, as the partnership firm was incorporated, and a year later the brewery in Rotterdam was opened.
Gerard Adriaan Heineken died in 1893, leaving the prosperous company to his son, Henry Pierre Heineken.