Many people outside The Netherlands probably haven’t heard of the little Dutch Boy, Bartje Bartels, which is a shame as he looks adorable! However, looks can be deceiving!
The statuette is based on the design of both a limestone statue and a bronze statue located in Assen, Drenthe, Netherlands. Both are dedicated to ‘Bartje’ and sculpted by the Dutch sculptress, Suze Boschma-Berkhout in the 1950s.
Bartje Bartels, is the hero of a series of children’s books (1930s) written by Dutch author Anne De Vries (1904-1964) who was born near Assen in the Netherlands. The fictional figure, Bartje, and his family resided in Drenthe in the North East of the Netherlands where Bartje is now the provincial symbol of the area.
Bartje was from a poor farming family and, although he looks cute, he was a bit naughty and didn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a farmer! Sitting down to a frugal meal of brown beans with his family, he says,
“Ik bid niet voor bruine bonen” (“I don’t pray for brown beans”).
He can’t understand why his parents are shocked! I’m not sure whether or not there is a moral to the ‘coming of age’ story but there was a book sequel!
We have a small figurine of Bartje in stock probably produced as tourist ware. We believe it dates to about the 1960s/70s. He would look great gracing any desk, mantlepiece or shelf as a hint to children to eat their beans!