The first book to look at the canals of Amsterdam came out in about 1770, the variegated rows of house fronts being depicted in prints. Others followed, and the latest in the line is The Canals of Amsterdam. Now the canalside frontages have been photographed in colour, the elms devoid of leaves and the skies smoothed out in post-processing. These colour images run across the tops of the pages through the entire book. They are relatively small, a good choice given that anyone can walk past the houses themselves.


The rest of the book shows us above all the riches hidden behind those narrow facades. As promised by the book’s subtitle, this is truly a glimpse of four hundred years of building, living and working. Here the choice has been for a lively miscellany of detail, of necessity not paralleling the totality of the canal fronts. This variety shows us every nook and cranny of history in a rich range of pictorial matter. 

The grid with the text in two columns is nowhere rigid. The navigation system does its job inconspicuously, the captions are placed as best suits, the subheadings are journalistic.


‘What would be really surprising would be if a book like this didn’t look good’, opined the one panel member with reservations. The others agreed, but found that no reason to leave the book out of the selection. ‘A collosal job.’

Author Koen Kleijn, Ernest Kurpershoek, Jos Smit

Year 2013

Language English / Dutch

Edited by Koen Kleijn, Rob van Zoest

Publisher THOTH, Bussum, Kunsthistorisch Bureau D’ARTS, Noordeinde

Designer Lex Reitsma in collaboration with Tessa van der Eem, Julian Kleyn, Ruben Daas (Explanation Design), Bas van Vuurde

Printer NPN drukkers, Breda

Binder Van Waarden, Zaandam

Size 253 x 326 x 49

Number of pages 464 p.

Print run 750 (E) / 4,250 (D)

Price € 119.50 (launch price 99.50)

ISBN 978 90 6868 640 1 (E) / 978 90 6868 635 7 (D)

Font Akzidenz Grotesk

Binding style sewn hardback

Material 135gsm Symbol Tatami (interior), 170gsm Munken Polar (endpapers), Brillianta Callandré 34000, black (binding), 170gsm LuxoSatin (dust jacket)