Kees was a wonderful friend to both the Princely Family of Monaco and the Foundation. Kees was the creator and sculptor of the exquisite bronze Princess Grace Statuette given to Princess Grace Statue Award winners. We remember him for his devotion to our mission of celebrating extraordinary artists. His legacy will live on through the many sculptures that you can visit in Monaco and around the world, but more importantly, his legacy will be celebrated through the Princess Grace Statue Award winners that have been given the prestigious Statue Award for displaying consistent excellence in theater, dance, or film – the Foundation’s highest honor. To date, 67 artists have received this coveted Award.
Thank you, Kees, for all you’ve given to the Princess Grace Foundation.
From Princess Grace Foundation Trustee Barbara Lehman:
“We remember Kees for his devotion to Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. There was a mutual understanding of the gentle and generous nature they shared. That he admired the dignity and beauty of their character is evident in the busts he created of HSH Prince Rainier and HSH Princess Grace. The relationship of the Princely family with Kees and his beloved wife Ludmila began long ago with Grace’s friendship with Ludmila’s mother Virginia Gallico. Virginia became Princess Grace’s primary aide and confidante after the death of her husband, the author Paul Gallico and remained with the Palace until her retirement. Kees received multiple commissions by their Highnesses to enrich the culture and history of Monaco with his sculptures. They can be seen there as a testament to their admiration for his artistry and they maintained a warm connection to him throughout their lives. We have spent lovely times with Kees and his family. Visits to his home and studio in Biot, his sanctuary, were a delightful privilege. We treasure the small sculptures we own and his beautiful standing portrait of Ludmila in our garden.
Though we mourn the loss of Kees along with all who knew him, we are happy to know that his legacy will never fade. We send our deepest condolences to Ludmila and their daughter Casmira.”
Korstiaan (known as Kees) Verkade was born in Haarlem, The Netherlands in 1941, the son of Willem and Adriana Verkade. Beginning at a young age, Kees was passionate about drawing. He studied with Amsterdam artist Gerrit van’t Net (1910-1971) and by 1965, he had his own small studio where, from time to time, he staged his own exhibitions.Soon after his first exhibitions, he was invited to show his works in a number of well-known galleries. In 1966, Ina Broerse presented his work in her gallery in Amsterdam’s Spiegelstraat. Later that year, Kees exhibited at the Kunstzaal Heuff in Wassenaar and in 1967 at the Stedelijk Museum in Schiedam. A year later, he held his first exhibition abroad at the Down Town Gallery in Düsseldorf, Germany. It was in 1969 that Kees’ career took off when American photographer David Douglas Duncan discovered his work at an art market in Haarlem. In 1970, TIME Magazine devoted an entire article to ‘the shy Dutch artist’ entitled “The Hottest Underground Sculptor”. From then on, commissions flooded in. The Hirshhorn Sculpture Collection Museum in Washington bought several figures. He was commissioned to design a large-scale sculpture for the Columbia University Law School in New York in memory of the lawyer Bill Donovan. To mark his fortieth year in sculpture, Mayor Wim Deetman presented him with a royal distinction. H.M. Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands made him Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion. A year later, the Mayor of Monaco offered him a retrospective in honor of his forty years as an artist; the exhibition took place in the Salle du Canton in Monaco. In 1999, Prince Rainier of Monaco made Kees Verkade Officer of the Order of Cultural Merit and Officer of the Order of the Grimaldis in honor of his life work. Kees Verkade passed away on December 29th 2020 in the Principality of Monaco.
Monaco & the Princely Family
Kees often stayed with his American friends in the South of France and Monaco, and it was through his friendship with writer Paul Gallico that he met the Princely Family of Monaco. Princess Grace invited him to the theater and Prince Rainier asked him to attend the ‘International Circus Festival’. During this period he met Paul Gallico’s stepdaughter, Ludmila von Falz-Fein who became his second wife in 1979. A new theme in Verkade’s work at the time was dance with which his wife had strong ties. Kees Verkade who by now had settled in Monaco produced endless variations of dancers, both individual figures and pairs.It is impossible to wander around the Principality of Monaco without coming across works by Kees Verkade. Les Premiers Pas (1987) has pride of place outside the maternity unit at the Princess Grace Hospital, Invitation (1979) is next to the ornamental pond in the Jardins Saint Martin on the Rock, whilst Les sportifs (1993) stands proudly outside the Louis II stadium in Fontvieille. However, the most extraordinary commissions are those he made for Prince Rainier himself. Kees was struck by to the strong features of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and presented his portrait to him on the occasion of his birthday as a token of gratitude (H.S.H. Prince Rainier III, 1981). When Princess Grace passed away in 1982, the Prince asked Kees Verkade to create a statue of the Princess on the Rock (1983). He was offered a space in the Palace to work on this creation far from prying eyes. This piece now stands in a rose garden created in her memory. Kees felt immensely honored when asked to portray Princess Grace of Monaco (1983).
Additional work by Kees: Portraits of W.B. Yeats (1987) and Oscar Wilde (1992) for the Princess Grace Irish Library, Monaco. Writer Paul Gallico (1974), pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1982) and conductor Riccardo Muti (1991) all feature in private collections. Back home, his portrait of H.M. Queen Wilhelmina (1987) was placed in the Council of State Building in The Hague in 1989. Ten years later, he was to portray her again – warlike in her shapeless coat – inspecting the troops in Noordwijk aan Zee on April 4th 1940 arriving by sea from England. The Princess Grace Humanitarian Award which is given out every two years by the Ireland Fund of Monaco, the ‘Festival International de la Magie de Monte Carlo’ (Lapin au chapeau (1991), Junior Jury Prize; Baguette d’Or (1995), First prize) and the best artist of the annual ‘Festival International du Cirque de Monte Carlo’ (Clown met wereldbol, 2000). His last masterpiece called Salutifera Unitas was ordered by the Foundation Helden van de zorg in order to thank and support the Covid19 medical staff.
Image of the Princess Grace Statuette
Princess Grace Statue Award winners with the Princess Grace Statuette created by Kees Verkade