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Two knights in a joust

by Eric Claus, 1964

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bronze, c. 160 cm high, Grote Markt (Lepelstraat), Haarlem

This sculpture was placed on the location where in the Middle Ages the tournaments were held in Haarlem. At that time the location was called ’t Sant. A tournament was an event where a number of different games and festivities took place, sometimes a week long. The fight between two individual knights with long lances was one of the games, called ‘joust’. The participants were bound to rules and chivalry was supposed to be exercised. Only men with the status of a knight could participate and victory in a joust greatly enhanced the status of a knight. The sculptor Eric Claus is fascinated by the fighting knight and he made not only this work in Haarlem but also several others: in Gouda (courtyard of Museum Gouda, 1965), Hilversum (Vaartweg 163, 1968), Muiden (Muiderslot 1984) and Heino (Kasteel Het Nijenhuis, 1980). In all these sculptures the dynamics of speed, power and balance are expressed. This is true for the riders but even more for the horses. The artist once remarked that over time he made the lances steadily shorter as a remedy to aggression. These sculptures also are an indication that in modern art the horse has not lost its important position.