Ever since the life-size sculpture Monsieur Jacques by Oswald Wenckebach has stood on the Coolsingel many of Rotterdam’s inhabitants have taken it to their hearts. Monsieur Jacques is not a portrait of a real person but a representation of a self-satisfied middle-class man. Since 1959 he has stood on the same spot doing nothing but looking around him: his chest out, his nose held high, holding his hat behind his back.
The stylised male figure is highly simplified with few details. Monsieur Jacques wears an overcoat, although this is evident more from the silhouette than the detailing. His arms appear to have fused with his body. The model of the jacket is only summarily defined by several incised lines and raised areas that represent the placement of the lapels and the pockets. The trousers and shoes are also vaguely delineated.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen owns a series of figure sketches by Oswald Wenckebach, each featuring Monsieur Jacques. Each of the drawings shows him in a different pose and with a different character or mood. The titles refer to events or situations in which Monsieur Jacques finds himself: attending a funeral, engaging in a political debate and as a tourist on holiday. When the sculpture was unveiled in the mid-1950s many Dutch people recognised in it the stereotype of a Dutch middle-class man.