Search for paintings by legendary stallions Wilfried and Advertising leads to unique exhibition in Grijpskerk. “They are probably buried at the residential care center”

The remains of the legendary stallions Advertising and Wilfried may lie on the grounds of residential care center De Nieuwe Wierde in Grijpskerk. As if fate had decreed it, an exhibition – the result of a diligent search by the historical society – can now be seen here about the almost forgotten story of the Grijpskerk Stallion Association.

It Newspaper of the North made an extensive report on July 28, 1929 on ‘De Groote Paarden-Breeding Day in Grijpskerk.’ The reporter noted, among other things: ‘Extraordinary Collections of horses, both warm and cold blooded.’ (…) ‘The Association for the Promotion of Horse Breeding in Grijpskerk has contributed a lot to this. In the country names of the stallions such as Advertising and Wilfried are honored.’

The reporter appears to be very impressed by Wilfried’s descendants. ‘The mighty build and excellent gaits are clearly reflected in his descendants. Really, the Grijpskerk area has many of the best horses in the province.’

‘You had your mare covered and after three years you had a tractor’

In short, if you wanted a good horse, you had to be in Grijpskerk. ,,In the stable of the pub there was a stallion where you could have your mare covered”, says board member Hugo Luyken of the Historical Association Kluften en Waarden.

In addition to the paintings, medals and photos, the exhibition also shows an advertisement with the rates that Wilfried used for his services. ,,You could have your mare covered for twenty guilders. Many farmers did. After three years you then had a ‘tractor’ that could pull the plow.”

The Stallion Association existed from 1899 to 1978 and its members owned about 35 stallions at its peak. Over the years, the association fell into oblivion. Until a few months ago, press and horse photographer Jacob Melissen knocked on the door of the Historical Association Kluften en Waarden, which has a space at De Nieuwe Wierde, with three paintings under his arm. Luyken: ,,He had paintings with him of the stallions Xerxes, Ehrenknabe and of an unknown stallion. All paintings were made at the beginning of the last century. Xerxes and Ehrenknabe were painted by a Mr. Webb. The Unknown Stallion is a painting by Tabertus Melissen, Jacob’s father.”

An Englishman from the English Camp painted horses

Louis Carl August Theodoor Meer Webb was an Englishman who roamed the province and painted many portraits of horses. “He was interned in the English Camp in Groningen.” This was the internment camp for British soldiers during the First World War and was also called Timber Town. “We don’t know exactly what his background is.”

But there had to be two more paintings by Webb. ,,From Wilfried and Advertising, the best-known stallions of the association. All paintings were commissioned by the then board.

How it started

Photographer Jacob Melissen (1952) lives in Fluitenberg. ,,But I was born in Grijpskerk. My father photographed and painted. He got those paintings from the stallions Advertising and Wilfried to restore them. Somehow those other paintings (Ehrenknabe and Xerxes, ed.) also ended up with him.”

His father also painted horses himself. One of his paintings – of an unknown stallion – hung on Jacob Melissen’s wall together with Xerxes and Ehrenknabe for many years. “But I recently moved and I was wondering what to do with it. That’s why I took them to the historical society, now they’re back in their natural habitat. But I knew that those other two paintings by Advertising and Wilfried had to be somewhere as well. Subsequently, the board of the historical society started a search via RTV Noord.

After the dissolution of the association they went ‘wandering’. Wilfried was eventually found with a relative of one of the former board members. ,,The painting of Advertising turned out to be hanging in the town hall of Zuidhorn for years.” Luyken laughs. “I often had to be at the town hall for meetings. So I passed by there for years without knowing it.”

Wilfried and Advertising buried at residential care center

Wilfried and Advertising were eventually buried near the current residential care center. ,, They were not taken to the butcher, they would have been too valuable for that. The café with the deck station was in this area and somewhere here” – he gestures to the lawn in front of De Nieuwe Wierde – ,,they must be lying there. But it is also possible that the remains were excavated and cleared during construction in the early sixties.” He stares through the window at the grass. “It’s nice to know they’re still here.”

The exhibition can still be seen on Saturdays, May 27 and June 3 from 1 pm to 5 pm.