BY: DAVID ENDT DECEMBER 23, 2016, 12:20
The most beautiful entrance to Amsterdam is from the Utrechtsebrug, over the Amstel, drifting down the river into the Rijnstraat. Especially when you return from a long trip, entering feels like Amsterdam is embracing you. Destination reached. Satisfied, you adjust your speed to the city traffic and silently sigh how nice it is to be back
in your city.
On the right, the descending house numbering is odd. After 150 meters I slow down disproportionately, to almost walking pace. Because my eyes want to catch the portrait that hangs behind the glass of the wood-framed shop window at number 213.
The shop window in which painter Ellen Davidzon displays some of her work on the Rijnstraat. These are often slightly impressionistic beach views, as well as cityscapes.
The speed is characteristic. That portrait has been hanging there for six months. The bright colors also make it immediately noticeable and extremely recognizable: Johan Cruijff. Oil on linen.
A royal portrait, tender and strong. That’s how you want to remember him
Now Cruijff interpretations can be found everywhere in the city, from the Puma football boots of 1971 in the window of the Max Sigaar tobacconist in the Tweede Goudsbloemdwarsstraat to the hard, catchy graffiti under the Schellingwouderbrug. But that portrait of Ellen Davidzon is of unprecedented beauty, Cruijff at his best.
The afternoon sun on his sweaty face, his hair tangled around his head, as normal after a match. Also beautiful is the sparkling red-white collar painted in a few strokes against his neck.
With the olive green background it lifts the appearance. Without a hint of stately pose, just filled with the full pulse of life, it is a royal portrait of the footballer. Tender and strong. That’s how you want to remember him.
Amsterdam entrance. Rijnstraat 213. A look to the side. A look back.
In their last column of 2016, the year that Johan Cruijff died, our columnists dedicate their contribution to him.
David Endt is a writer and columnist for Het Parool. He was associated with Ajax for more than thirty years, first as a player, later as press secretary and team manager.