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Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum

NETHERLANDS | Thursday, 27 November 2014 | Views [567]

"Night Watch," Rembrandt's most famous - but not his best, Rijksmuseum, Amsterda

I WAS LAST IN THE NETHERLANDS IN 1970, an unsophisticated young sergeant just back from Vietnam.  I remember windmills, tulips, canals, cheese and Amsterdam’s (in)famous Red Light District.  The country has probably changed since then.  I know I have.

wind     wind

Windmills in November                        Painting of windmill

There are still windmills, of course, and canals.  The tulips will color the fields again in the spring.  Whores still sit in windows displaying their (not so) goodies in the shadow of the Old Church.  But they no longer excite me.  (Truth be told, the statue of “Belle,” the unknown prostitute, is the most sensual of the bunch we saw today.)

cn    bell

Narrow houses on canal                     Belle, the unknown prostitute

I am much more interested in the cultural side of Amsterdam, especially the art of the Rijksmuseum where we spent so much time (and money!) yesterday.  Long before Annie Leibovitz and Alfred Stieglitz picked up a Brownie, Dutch painters like Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer were painting lifelike portraits of real people being themselves.;They introduced techniques never before seen . . . and seldom seen since.


    "The Merry Drinker" by Frans Hals


   Got milk? "The Milkmaid" by Johannes Vermeer

The true Dutch Master, of course, is Rembrandt.  His most famous, though not his best work, The Night Watch, drew crowds like moths to a flame.  Sadly for us, many of his other works were on loan to the National Gallery in London.  But there were enough other works on display to keep us happy and out of the cold.


   Rembrant as a young man by Himself









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