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!