Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day Two: The Hague & Delft

Today was my second day in Amsterdam. I got breakfast at a nearby café, and ordered coffee, completely forgetting that I would be receiving a small espresso instead of my normal large drip coffee. But, on the bright side, they did give me a small spice cookie! I then made a day trip out to the Hague and Delft, which are about a 15 minute or so train ride away from each other. The Hague was about an hour out from Amsterdam. My purpose was to visit the Mauritshuis, the Royal Picture Gallery, home to many Dutch masters, and the ever mysterious “Girl with a pearl earring,” by Vermeer, known as the Mona Lisa of the North. The museum was only about a ten minute walk from the train station and very easy to find. The Mauritshuis collection was begun by Prince Willem V in the 18th century. When his son, King Willem I presented the collection to the Dutch nation it was called the Royal Picture Gallery, and was expanded from then on. The Mauritshuis itself is named for its first resident, Johan Maurits, and contains many 17th century portraits, still lifes, genre paintings, and landscapes from Holland. I was very excited to see some of the better known works, notably Rembrandt’s “Anatomy Lesson of Nicolaes Tulp,” and a “Self Portrait,” done in 1669 as an old man, as well as various paintings by Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens. The collection also is home to a small selection of Flemish and German 16-17th century works including “The Lamentation of Christ” by Rogier van der Weyden and “Forest Scene,” by Gerard David. This was actually my first van der Weyden to see in person, which was amazing and had such intricate details of precious gems and tears on the figure’s faces. Other artists I enjoyed seeing were more of Jan Steen’s morality and irony paintings, a Quentin Massys “Madonna and Child,” and works by Jan Brueghel I. Additionally, the Mauritshuis was currently holding a temporary exhibit called “The Young Vermeer,” which displayed three of his early paintings, on loan from other museums. Out of the seven Vermeer paintings housed in the Netherlands, I have now seen them all! After walking around to see a little more of the Hague; I took a train over to nearby Delft. Unfortunately, because it was Sunday, barely anything was open in the town, including, oddly enough, the two old churches, as well as the Royal Delft Porcelain Manufacturing Company. So instead, I walked around the churches and did a little bit of window shopping. The town was extremely charming. I saw many people out walking, riding bikes, and even enjoying a paddle-boat ride down the canal! The houses were old, as were the brick streets and I would have loved to explore a little more. Next time!
Tomorrow is my last day in Amsterdam, and then I will be heading back down to Belgium to experience more sights and artworks.