Hendrick van Holt, attr. to

Kalkar, Germany, c. 1520-30
Saint Sebastian
Oakwood, carved in the round, h. 115 cm

Duchy of Cleves

Kalkar: one of its ‘capital cities’

Political upheaval

During Hendrick van Holst’s lifetime Kalkar was one of the seven ‘capitals’ of the Duchy of Cleves. Cleves, a territory within the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, can look back at a long history: in 1020 it was given the status of a county and in 1417 it became a duchy. The ruler’s seat was Schwanenburg and – for a time – Monterberg Castle near Kalkar. Following an inheritance dispute it fell to Brandenburg-Prussia in 1614.

Kalkar and Wesel

Part of the Hanseatic League

Joining forces

By 1540 Kalkar had joined the Hanseatic League as a town affiliated to Wesel in order to improve its economic potential. The Hanseatic League, a confederation of merchant guilds from northern Gemany, opened up new trading possibilities to its members’ towns which were granted special privileges. The residents of Kalkar at that time not only benefitted from a healthy commercial climate but their own needs were also well catered for: the town, with a population of less than 5000, had 42 breweries! Kalkar’s membership in the Hanseatic League ended in 1618.

Christian Sgrothen

Surveyor of the world

Court cartographer to Philip II

Christian Sgrothen was born in Sonsbeck in 1525, the son of the town clerk Peter Sgrothen. He worked as a painter and cartographer in Kalkar where he was granted citizenship of the town in 1548. From 1557 onwards he was in the service of King Philip II of Spain, as the court cartographer, for whom he surveyed northwest Germany, among other regions, and drew maps of Geldern-Zutphen, Westphalia, Jülich-Cleves-Mark and Luxembourg as well. Sgrothen’s cartographic work was the most important of the Lower Rhine area in the 16th century. The polymath died in Kalkar in 1604.