An unexpected surprise from the enfant terrible of Dutch photography. A never-published photo book by Ed van der Elsken, titled “feest,” hit bookstores on Oct. 24, almost three decades after his death in 1990.
Among these forgotten photographs is a black and white portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh during a state visit in the Netherlands.
This never-before-seen image captures the royal couple in March 1958, when Queen Elizabeth II was just 31. They are seen chatting with Queen Juliana of the Netherlands at a banquet at the Ridderzaal in The Hague, while dignitaries and photographers surround them.
Also published for the first time in “feest” are photographs taken by van der Elsken in the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, at festive events such as the notorious book ball at the Concertgebouw building and the birthday party of Belgian author Hugo Claus.
For unknown reasons, the Dutch photographer never published these 134 images in a photo book, although researchers believe he compiled this opus in roughly the same period that he was working on his famed “Sweet Life.”
The photo book was discovered by curators of the Rijksmuseum and the Nederlands Fotomuseum, after van der Elsken’s widow, Anneke Hilhorst, took the decision to transfer the artistic estate of the renowned Dutch photographer to the two museums in 2019.
“Ed van der Elsken gained international renown thanks in particular to his photo books. This makes the discovery of ‘feest’ all the more remarkable. ‘Feest’ captures an era, from the 1950s to the early 60s. You see extremes: from fun fairs to state visits, from smiles to tears. You see people connecting and people letting go. Most of all, you see what it is that brings people together,” Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, said in a statement.
“Feest” will be published on Oct. 24, ahead of the exhibition “Ed van der Elsken: Crazy World” at the Rijksmuseum. The mock-up design for van der Elsken’s photo book will be included in the presentation, which will be on view in Amsterdam from Oct. 30 through Jan. 10, 2021. CC