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Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Little Woodcutter

This unattributed sculpture in Amsterdam is hiding in plain sight. 

Despite its location across from one of Amsterdam’s busiest squares, this tiny statue goes easily unnoticed. 

If you look up between the branches of a large tree across the Leidsekade from the American Hotel, you may spot a very industrious, very small man. A bronze statue wearing work gear leans over intently, using both of his tiny hands to saw away at the branch below him. 

The 50-centimeter-tall woodcutter appeared on his branch on January 30th, 1989. The timing, the day before Queen Beatrix’s birthday, has led some locals to conclude that the piece was either commissioned or created by Beatrix herself, a known lover of the arts. The same mysterious sculptor has placed other works around the city - among them a musician in the Town Hall and several small men climbing the wall in the Anjelierstraat. This piece, hidden in the foliage, is probably the most difficult to spot, and thus the most sought-after. 

Since the statue’s installation several decades ago, the tree has grown up and around him, swallowing his shoes and part of his saw blade. Whether or not his maker eventually chooses to reveal their identity, all signs point to that the industrious woodcutter will remain hard at work. This little fellow also has been made subject of modern treasure hunters, since it is a main feature in a Geocache.

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