Impressions of Holland 4 (& final): Maastricht

Or, more accurately, the St. Servaas church, because that is what we mostly saw, and where I took all my photos, when we were in Maastricht.

My impression of the church… well, easy: it’s a stunning bit of architecture. Part Romanesque, part Gothic, very colourful, very well-decorated… yes, I was impressed. And as this series of photos shows, a lot of thought and effort has been put into the lighting of various statues (making life for a photographer nice ‘n’ easy!).

So as I was saying, these statues work out so well I think this makes for a nice series that shows the “best” of the St. Servaas. Then, below the fold, a few more interesting photos that don’t fit that “theme”.

And to get the now-usual photographic nerdiness out of the way; these photos were taken with my “usual” (as in, if I don’t know what to expect, don’t want to think, or feel I will get a lot of different situations, I will take that lens) walkabout lens, the 16-80 mm.

That is a statue just outside the church, in the ambulatory.

St. Anthony of Padua, if my memory serves me well

And here I liked the visual illusion of Jesus looking at the two little lights at his feet (it doesn’t work all that well in the photo, couldn’t get all the angles to work):

None too small

Then there was some nice “interplay” between the stained glass windows and the works of art beneath them. Here the icon just positively jumps out at you…

And here the effect on the statue is simply amazing!

Finally, this is simply the grave of St Servaas (died 384 AD). Atmospheric.

Grave of St Servaas

Below the fold two more photos of interesting stuff!

This first one is interesting for the materials used to make these reliquaries. It gives you a very good idea of what was considered exotic, weird, fascinating, in these days (14th century AD). The egg on the left is of a casuaris; the standing reliquary on the right is made from coconut; and hanging are two ostrich eggs! Imagine for instance the wonder that would surround stories of birds as big as a man, that can run as fast as a horse, when all you see around you are sparrows, blackbirds, and maybe the odd falcon.

Exotic reliquaries

My favourite architectural period is Gothic. Aside from the architecture I think also sculpture, or maybe better… decoration? from that period is great. Often I find it is just so funny – and funny is not a word usually associated with the Middle Ages. Walking around a gothic church, looking at the statues, you will often find they are made to look like charicatures (I don’t have an example at hand though :( ).

This, the front of another reliquary, reads like a 13th (?)-century comic book – and was likely intended to be read like that, given “nobody” could read! – and has Monty Pythonesque qualities.

At the bottom there is the 3D depiction of what I imagine is a saint – it may well be St Servaas himself. He is positively sticking out of the front of that piece of metal; and he might as well because he’s trying to look at what is going on above his head!

So, in the middle are two angels who are helping him out a bit, saying, ah, there you are, yes, we are talking to you, you need to pay attention; and this is what you should be looking at – and they both helpfully point their fingers up.

Then, at the top, God simply sticks his hand down from above, holding a crown, as if to say, here, take this (and don’t drop it). Very matter-of-fact, understated… and it so looks like Monty Python to me!

In short, I love this depiction, it’s great great great!

A Gothic graphic novel of one page


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