There were a lot of rich people, and rich people bought a lot of art, and had a lot of art made, especially of themselves. In that era also lived one Rembrand Harmenszoon van Rijn, who painted a picture here and there. What all this has left us with today is a vast, vast collection of art. But not just art: the Rijkmuseum shows objects too, such as a canon, an enormous scale model of a war ship (a few centuries old), or the seal of a great British warship, captured by the Dutch. We had lots of wars with the British back in the day. One we won by sailing our fleet into the harbour near London and, trashing their war ships and taking their flagship. The British were eager for peace after that one, and an agreement was brokered where we got the South American Suriname in exchange for our American colony New Amsterdam. The British renamed it to New York. Christy learned at school that the Dutch are among other things both reserved and direct, and that our country is founded on trade. Sound familiar? ;)
Anyway, that's a bit of a tangent. The point is, the Rijksmuseum has lots of stuff to see. Unfortunately, most of it is packed in a safe as the building has been undergoing a renovation for the past ten years. All that is available is a small area of the monumental building - once built more or less around Rembrand's most famous piece, De Nachtwacht (The Nightwatch) - crammed with art and some historical objects. The next set date for the grand reopening is in 2013. Let's hope they actually make this deadline this time. I'd like to see the rest of their one million piece collection.
Arno and I had tried to go to the Rijksmuseum once before, when I was visiting a couple years back, but due to some poor navigational choices (not my fault, and that sign was already bent!) and excessive amounts of attention spent at the Anne Frank Huis, by the time we got to the museum, it was 15 mins before closing. We had poor timing. But, as it turns out now, I got to go at a better time construction-wise and could also use the trip as a project to write about for my Dutch portfolio.
The above portraits, in case you don't know them, are based on one of Rembrandt van Rijn's self portraits and "Lady with a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer, who was one of Rembrandt's apprentices.
The other big thing--THE really big thing, in fact--about the museum is that it houses Rembrandt's "The Night Watch." Arno fully expected me to be awed by it. I clung to the attitude of, "eh, it's a painting." It was also in the last you pass through in the place... so I'd come across a LOT of other art before reaching it.... No. It's not just a painting. It's a FREAKING HUGE painting. Restored, it's very bright, and the name given to it no longer fits it, as thereis a clear ray of sunshine in the foreground. Anyway, yeah, it's fairly impressive!
As an aside, some nutbar came in with a knife, trying to destroy the painting in recent years. It has since been restored, and put back on display (obviously), but now there's always someone there on watch duty (irony...), and the easily-overstepped guard rail is placed a bit further back so that, with a few measures of Dutch optimism, nothing else will befall the masterpiece.
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...