I’ve just completed an art-lover’s pig-out! In two days I toured the greatest art of the Low Countries at three fantastic museums: Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museums in Amsterdam and Mauritshuis in the Hague (real name: den Haag). I think I’m in sensory overload!
My Sunday afternoon was spent at the Rijksmuseum. It’s one of the world’s great art museums, showing almost exclusively the works of Dutch artists. The building which dates from 1885 underwent extensive remodeling for about ten years before reopening in 2013. In front of the museum is a fun sculpture that proclaims “Iamsterdam” – it’s a favorite for tourist photos.
Amsterdam is an enormous, crowded city and has been so for centuries. Yesterday as the sun came up around 8:30 I walked for about a mile from my hotel to “Museumplein” – the area where three great art museums are located adjacent to one another. There were probably ten times more commuter bicycles than cars, Bikes are famously the main mode of transportation there! (They are sneaky devils! They make no noise and before you know it they’re zooming by at your heels!)
The VanGogh museum was my morning destination. The museum tells the sad story of the life of Vincent Van Gogh who suffered from depression and ultimately committed suicide at the age of 37. He really only painted the pictures for which he is so well known in the last two years of his life. In his career, which lasted less than ten years, he created more than 2100 works of art and never sold one. The museum features several self-portraits and a few of the more famous works, such as his sunflowers.
I next took the train to den Haag, the capital city of the Netherlands. This appears to be a happening place! Since George and I were there 15 years ago several very tall office towers have popped up around the old center city. I’d love to have had more time there. My destination was a museum called the Mauritshuis. This is a small museum with some of the greatest works of art. This museum was begun with the king’s donation of his art collection many years ago. It’s displayed in a beautiful 17th century mansion. This is probably my favorite museum, in part because it is small and in part because every item shown is superb. Here are two or three works you may recognize and you can see more by clicking here
I had an easy train ride “home.” Tomorrow I leave for Lisbon!
Sounds like you made the most of your quick trip! Seeing that much wonderful art in two days could indeed lead to sensory overload. I really need to add den Haag to my list of places to see. Have a safe trip to Lisbon and I look forward to hearing about it.
Dear Libbie, how nice to have discovered your website, describing in full color and words your discoveries throughout Europe! I hope you’ll enjoy your time in Lisbon as much as Antwerp, and maybe we’ll meet in another part of the world. Astrid
Thanks Astrid. I’ll let anyone who asks me know they can rent your apartment in Antwerp on AirBnB. It’s much nicer than two weeks in a hotel! I too hope we can meet one day.