The paradise garden at Nieuwenkamp’s Florentine style Villa

Printmaker, painter, architect, shipbuilder, writer, explorer, art collector and ethnographer W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp (1874-1950) was one of Edam’s most prominent artists. His passion for the city led him to save buildings from demolition and to organise the restoration of stained glass windows in the Great Church. In 1949 he was made an honorary citizen of Edam, for which he received a silver medal, and also opened his own museum in the city. He was one of the founders of the Association of Oud Edam and was a member of Edam Museum’s board until his death in 1950. 

In 1926 he bought the villa ‘Riposo dei Vescovi’ near Florence in Italy, which he renamed Villa Nieuwenkamp. Between 1926 and 1947, he renovated and restored his villa and garden, including moving books, furniture and even plant cuttings from Edam to Italy. The garden was augmented with a swimming pool as well as archaeological finds, statues, vases and fountains – reflecting the biblical Hortus Conclusus – the safe, enclosed garden where the fountain of life is central. 

 Various drawings and painted sketches give us a view of this garden with its many statues and fountains. These are the focus of Edam Museum’s third exhibition of works by W.O.J. The exhibition also includes drawings of some objects that Nieuwenkamp transferred from Edam to Italy, such as the statue Buddha meditating in the ruins, previously displayed in his garden in Edam. This statue now stands next to his tombstone in his Italian garden, overlooking the fountains. 

The exhibition Hortus Conclusus, The paradise garden at Nieuwenkamp’s Florentine style Villa (1926-1947) in the Coopmanshuys is open to visitors from 25 March 2023.