Selling Holland / by Geoff Harrison

My favourite Dutch 17th Century artist Jacob Van Ruisdael is often credited with presenting the Dutch landscape as it really was - overcast and damp.  "He carefully studied the fascinating characteristic movements in the sky: he was entranced by the infinite gradations of grey and how you'll often see a patch of fluffy brightness drifting behind a darker billowing mass of rain cloud.  He didn't deny there was mud or that the river and canal banks are sometimes messy.  Instead he noticed their special kind of beauty and made a case for it." THE BOOK OF LIFE


But the Dutch tourist board would prefer a different image of the country to be presented. (below)  There may be the occasional place and a few times of year when the Netherlands may actually look like this, but the countryside that Van Ruisdael depicted is something the tourist board would prefer to stay quiet about.  In it's determination to lure visitors to it's country, the Dutch tourist board engages in exaggeration, or at worst - lies.