As the Haarlemmerdijk used to be a main road to Haarlem, all sorts of small businesses have been located here in the course of the last few centuries. When the phenomenon ‘shop’ was introduced during the industrial revolution, many of the existing buildings were transformed into fashionable shops with attractive facades, the en vogue style in that period being Art Nouveau. And today, the street is still very attractive with lots of interesting little shops and beautifully restored Art Nouveau facades.
Caron designed this facade for N. Roeraade, who owned a ‘Visch & Fruithandel’, a Fish & Fruit shop. Tile panels often replaced shop signs during the fin-de-siècle as do the tile panels on this particular facade. They are reminders of the activities in the past.
As we have discovered, Art Nouveau artists were inspired by nature, especially by the shapes of flowers and plants. But also the animal kingdom was a great source of inspiration and Caron clearly let his imagination run free at Haarlemmerdijk 39! I love the tile panels above the shop window that depict sea creatures like an Octopus, a Seal, a Seahorse, an Eel and all kinds of fish. (It made me wonder though: did the people in Amsterdam have seal meat on their menu back in the 1900s? Or does the seal only have a decorative purpose?)
On both sides of the shop window are wall-cramps depicting twisting eels. And on the right side of the shop we find a wooden figurine of a fisherman, again reminding us of the original activities of the shop.
Chiselled in stone two dragons flank the name of the owner N. Roeraade.
One last thing I would like to point out is the influence Japonism had on Art Nouveau. Like Japanese artist, Art Nouveau artists had an aversion to symmetry which in architecture often resulted in an asymmetrical facade.
Besides this residential-shop, Caron has designed many other buildings in Amsterdam like Haarlemmerdijk 43, Haarlemmerstraat 51, Leidsestraat 94, Raadhuisstraat 44, Utrechtsestraat 123, and the shop facade of Keizersgracht 329. The latter being particularly interesting because Caron lived here himself and undoubtedly held office here as well. Later in life, Caron built almost exclusively for Vroom and Dreesmann. One of the first stores he designed was Damstraat 7, in 1910, which is a rather spectacular design because of its three-story high glass facade. He also designed the the stores at Kalverstraat, Vijzelgracht and at the corner of Noorderstraat, as well as many stores outside Amsterdam: in Deventer, Breda and Alkmaar.