The Bishop and the Relief of Groningen

22 May 2007

From 9 June to 2 September, the Groninger Museum will present the exhibition entitled Bommen Berend en het Gronings ontzet (The Relief of Groningen) in the Oval Room West.

On 28 August 1672, which is exactly 335 years ago, the Bishop of Munster, Bernhard von Galen, departed after having laid siege to the City of Groningen for several months. The city had been successfully defended by Carel Rabenhaupt in heroic style. Von Galen was known as ‘Bommen Berend’ (Bombing Berend) because he subjected the city to a continual rain of cannon fire. The assault by the Bishop of Munster was not an isolated incident. At the same time, the King of France and the Bishop of Cologne had also assailed the Netherlands, while England harassed it from the sea. The relief of Groningen was a turning point in this year of disaster.

The Relief of Groningen has been celebrated every year since then, with only a few exceptions. The Relief was commemorated in 1672 and successive years with prints, coins, medallions, paintings and other artistic expressions. Since the middle of the 19th century, the Relief has been celebrated in the same way as it still is today, with equestrian events, fairground attractions, and fireworks.

The exhibition presents exceptional objects dating from the period of the Relief and shortly afterwards. At the same time, the exhibition also devotes attention to the celebration of the Relief in later years in the form of 20th-century film pictures of the 28th of August.

An extraordinary feature in the exhibition is a painting by the German painter Wolfgang Heimbach. This work, which has never been shown previously in the city, displays the Bishop of Munster on horseback in front of the City of Groningen. With this painting, Von Galen apparently celebrated the siege itself as a great military achievement.

A book on the siege will be published to accompany the exhibition. Thanks to the Westerwolds Monument Fund, this book can be offered to all pupils in the last class of primary school in Groningen, along with a free admission ticket to the exhibition.

Note for the editor
Curator: Egge Knol.
For more information, please contact: jselbach@groningermuseum, or +31 (0)50-3666555.