Founded over two hundred years ago, the Rijksmuseum is a national museum devoted to arts and history from medieval times and into our century. It has a collection of over a million objects in eighty galleries and receives over two and a half million visitor per year.
It is a must-see if visiting Amsterdam and I managed to see it twice in one month, on July 6th and July 24th of this year. Both times it was an outstanding experience and I'd like to share some of that here.
Let's start with a couple of exterior shots taken from my Amsterdam thread, which has more pictures of the museum and its home on the fabulous Museumplein.
Street view ~
Looking down into the entrance hall at closing time ~
The back of the building seen from the Museumplein ~
"They" will tell you to gallop on up to the heavyweights, the remarkable collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings, including Rembrandt's famous "The Night Watch". That's very well for some people, but the museum is entered through the basement, which is where the medieval collection is. Expecting me to hustle past that is like expecting a dog to hurry past the butcher's stand, so that's where we will start ~
Great start, and I need to see all of this because my last visit to the Rijksmuseum was in... 1971. I am already struck once again at how different a lot of the classical Dutch art is from French or Italian works from the same period. Sometimes the differences seem almost as great as the difference between European art and Asian art.
bjd, I doubt that is the case nowadays. There is so much more attention to accessibility for disabled people that I imagine that it will also be more favourable to parents with children who can't walk or walk much yet. There was a thorough renovation over several years; the last time I went only a part of the museum was accessible, but a seminar I was facilitating was invited free of charge for coffee, croissants and a concert as well as a short visit to what was on view. This was a treat as at least half of them and probably more came from global South countries and while they weren't poor back home, their currency was pretty much worthless in the Eurozone.
The new trams are also low-floor and pretty much universally accessible. I think the old trams were sold to a poorer country, probably in Eastern Europe.
I may be returning to Amsterdam in November, I don't know yet. The days are so short that time of year though! But far fewer tourists.
Post by bixaorellana on Sept 10, 2018 15:17:25 GMT
Good call on the differences between the northern European art and that of France & Italy in the same period, Kerouac.
Bjd, in the time since your daughter was a baby, strollers have morphed into VW Beetles with handles. I don't remember noticing any in the museum, but it may have been because my first visit was quite late in the day. They are allowed there, though.
As for time visited, I only stay in any museum for as long as I'm capable of taking it in and appreciating it. I urge anyone visiting Amsterdam for a week or longer to acquire the Museumkaart. If you stay as long as I did, it's a real luxury in terms of knowing you can just go back to any museum you feel you've had enough of for the day. This is a commercial site, but it will give an idea of individual entrance fees. I used it just now to quickly tot up some, not all, of the museums I visited in Amsterdam & the price would have come to over double what I paid for the Museumkaart. And that's not counting the museums I visited outside the city, which are also covered by the card.
Oh, I do hope you get to go, LaGatta! From all you've written on anyport, it's obvious that you love the city.
Some great paintings, Bixa, but I particularly like the sculpture of the Holy Family with Jesus walking along between his parents like a real little kid. Interesting too that Joseph is given contemporary Dutch clothes, but Mary has the usual draperies on.
Post by bixaorellana on Sept 10, 2018 20:18:14 GMT
Thanks, Bjd. I do love that piece, where you can tell little Jesus is trying to get the parents to swing him. Maybe the artist went with Mary in her traditional robes in order to cue viewers as to who the figures were, without having to resort to halos.
Ha ha, Kerouac! The milkmaid looks as though she's dreaming of a nice matterhorn or banana split.
Moving on now to the big paintings, starting with this swan. It's nothing in size compared to the other biggies, though, being a mere 1.44 m x 1.71 m ~
I confess that this next painting makes me feel uncomfortable, as I don't see it as the usual interpretation of love between two people, but rather as the the young woman barely tolerating her partner's touch ~
Taking pride of place in this gallery is Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, commonly referred to as The Night Watch. Rembrandt's huge (363 cm × 437 cm / 11.91 ft × 14.34 ft) painting was completed in 1642 ~
I have to admit that those -- what should I call them? -- Dutch collars have always disturbed me. I can't imagine anybody wanting to wear such a thing. Yes, I know< that the English also engaged in this perversion.
Post by bixaorellana on Sept 10, 2018 21:29:45 GMT
Well, you're getting a breather from collars and everything else from centuries gone by now.
I have built a little intermission into this thread, in the form of what I saw when I exited the museum on July 6th. Do check back, though, as I'll be returning to the museum and to this thread to show all I enjoyed on July 24th.
First a potty break, though, and a bit of wit in the ladies' room ~
What you're seeing in the windows on the left is reflection from the atrium. The huge archway through the building is what's actually beyond the windows ~
Post by bixaorellana on Sept 11, 2018 21:35:56 GMT
On July 24th I returned to the Rijksmuseum. This time I decided to try the trick of first targeting something I particularly wanted to see, in this case the Van Goghs, wandering off vaguely in the direction of the Impressionists. The art historians among us will quickly discern that I wound up going backward in time, which is as good a way as any of visiting an art museum.
Entering this gallery from the side and looking to my left, I immediately was face-to-face with a favorite artist ~
Why this vase is cooped up in a museum when it should obviously belong to me, I do not know ~
There were three Van Goghs in a row here, & I had to be quick to nip in and get my view of them ~
Garniture of five vases, Theo Colenbrander, 1886 Theo Colenbrander was the artistic mastermind of the Rozenburg earthenware factory in The Hague. His designs exhibit great freedom in both form and decoration. The slender, ribbed shape of these vases recalls bamboo. The ornamentation is modern: abstractly rendered floral and plant motifs in bright colours. Their shapes, however, are quite old-fashioned. It is a garniture (set) of five vases for display atop a cabinet.source
‘Arrangement in Yellow and Gray’: Effie Deans, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, c. 1876 - c. 1878 oil on canvas, h 194cm × w 93cm × d 9cm Whistler considered the formal and painterly qualities of his works more important than any reference to what they depicted. He often gave paintings musical titles indicating the colours in the composition. This is one of a series of studies he called ‘Arrangements’; it later acquired a literary sub-title Effie Deans referring to the heroine of Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Heart of Midlothian.source
The movers and doers of the Dutch Golden Age were not shy about showing off their wealth and power ~
Some live birds ~
Some dead birds ~
Chinoiserie is greatly associated with this period in the Netherlands. Ming dynasty Chinese porcelain imported to Europe. The exotic earthenware soon became so popular that Dutch earthenware production came under serious threat. To save their businesses, Dutch potters imitated Oriental porcelain: and so Delft blue was born. source
A wall of Dutch chinoiserie ~
Its popularity is reflected in the furnishings of this darling, darling doll house, which itself reflects what a wealthy home in Amsterdam would have looked like at that time. It was the property of Petronella Dunois, who filled her little house with manufactured furniture marked with the year 1676. source
Yes, you need to be on a computer for this kind of detailed post. Thanks again to Bixa. There are many things I've never seen since so much of the museum was being renovated the times I was in Amsterdam.
Post by bixaorellana on Sept 12, 2018 18:09:26 GMT
Patrick, thank you! I saw the tv movie, but did not realize it was taken from a book. Your comment creates a neat circle, as I reported on the tv show here, and you kindly gave me information on the real doll house here.
Thanks, LaGatta and Mick. This digital tour is extremely abbreviated compared to what there is to see in the museum, but even so, museum fatigue does set in. I do hope you all will view this (and other picture threads) on the computer, as it's frustrating enough that forum images are limited in size to begin with. Should anyone wish to view any of the pictures much larger, here are the links to my Flickr albums. The layout won't be the same as here, but close enough. You can click on the downward pointing arrow in the lower right corner of any of the pictures and select "view all sizes". Original size will always be the largest. The pictures from July 6 are here and those from July 24 here.
Moving on now to examine some of the rich things used to ornament homes back in the Golden Age ~
Corner chimneypiece, anonymous, c. 1700 - c. 1705 This corner chimneypiece probably came from the house of one of William III’s courtiers on the Korte Voorhout in The Hague. Chinese porcelain abounds on all of the consoles. Daniël Marot recorded this manner of installation in a number of his prints. The marblized wooden surround of the stokehole comes from another chimneypiece.source
More gorgeous examples of Delft ware, including elaborate tulip vases from the era of tulipmania ~
Father & son. The last sentence in the caption on the son's portrait is a masterpiece of dry commentary ~
Moving on now, through the library and then out and on to other galleries ~
Portrait of a Woman, Possibly Maria Trip, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1639 The young sitter is assumed to be Maria Trip, the daughter of a wealthy Amsterdam merchant. She displays her wealth with pride. She sports a fortune in pearls, and in her left hand she casually holds the knobbed handle of a folding fan. source
Let us pass through this portico now to the last posting of pictures in this thread ~
What could be more fun that this depiction of the Protestants vs. the Catholics in the game of hauling in souls? You don't need a scoreboard to see that the Protestants are winning.
Fishing for Souls, Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, 1614 At the left are the Protestant north Netherlanders, and at the right the Catholic southerners. Both parties fish for souls in the wide river dividing them. The Protestants’ catch is greater than that of the Catholics. Moreover, at the left the sun is shining and the trees are in leaf. This is a reference to a psalm: the righteous will flourish like a tree bearing fruit, whose leaves never wither.source
One last magnificent portrait ~
And I've arrived back at The Night Watch gallery ~
Into the atrium and goodbye to the Rijksmuseum ~
For those of you who know the "old" Rijksmuseum and for those whose interest I hope I've piqued with this thread, I offer this video and hasten to add that it is NOT my video.
The video is the work of Photoshock on YouTube and gives a wonderful overview of the museum, as it was on May 2017, a year & two months before I visited ~
Post by patricklondon on Sept 13, 2018 6:16:23 GMT
Call me facetious, but I always think there's something a bit "Dad's Army" about some of those militia group portraits, especially the Night Watch.
And van der Helst manages to be quite sly in capturing something humorous about his sitters they might not actually realise he and you are seeing, as with that portrait of the plump and show-off younger Bicker. If you'll forgive an intrusion from elsewhere on this thread, there's one of his portraits in Montreal that made me laugh out loud when I saw it (though the sitter might very well have intended it too, by the expression on his face - and the dog's)
Bravo for this report. Once again, though, I am struck by all of the variations in portraiture, not just in this museum but in every other art museum. Some of the people look modern and real as though they could step right off the canvas -- even in some of the oldest paintings -- and others look so stodgy and fake even when their clothing and other details are absolutely perfect. Those china doll-faced women with their milky complexions and the men who pose as if they are all royalty absolutely drive me up the wall after awhile, especially since they are interchangeable. I know that each era had its favourite styles and the artists who wanted to make money we obliged to adopt those styles, but in a way it is sort of like being forced to watch the Kardashians. I guess it reassured the nobility to be portrayed as perfect creatures living in a perfect world.
Most of the painting of "ugly" people are so much better, so thank you for showing everything.
The painters might have been laughing up their lacy sleeves as they painted their subjects, but I think it's pretty obvious that those wealthy and civically prominent citizens were unabashedly showing off their their pride in themselves and what they had. Those painters weren't called masters without reason, and they certainly were masters of expression. In some of the group pictures, some of the subjects are depicted in a informal, rather friendly way, so it appears that the pompous ones were content to have their true selves depicted accurately.
And yeah, I agree about the Dad's Army aspect. In the same painting of the militia company (linked below) with the dog, the guy with the fringe of powder horns is being completely irresponsible with his firearm. It's easy to imagine them moving out with a great clash and tangle of swords, pikestaffs, etc.
That must be van der Helst's dog, as it's the same one in his picture of Militia Company of District VIII under the Command of Captain Roelof Bicker at #10 above. I lightened these cropped pictures so they'd be easier to see. The one on the left is "my" dog & the one on the right is yours ~
Wonder if Capt. Roelof Bicker was related to the father & son in the portraits shown here.
I think one of the reasons all that Dutch portraiture remains so popular is because it's easy to believe that the subjects were caught accurately, self-satisfied expressions and all. It would have been great to have been a fly on the wall when some of the big militia portraits were unveiled to a mix of satisfaction, horror, embarrassment, and downright fury, depending on how each man felt he'd been depicted.
Out of all the portraits, the only one that seems somewhat stylized or perhaps idealized is that of David Leeuw's family in #17, and even then it may be completely accurate. Certainly David L. "looks Dutch", and remember that I've looked at bunches of Dutch people in the recent past.
Overall, I think the women come across as more real in all the Dutch pictures than in many art portraits, particularly those of the early 19th century where every woman had the same perfectly oval face with a pointy chin and bow lips all held on a swan-like neck above sloping shoulders.
Anyway, I am extremely pleased that you enjoyed this, as I certainly enjoyed the visits to the Rijksmuseum, a truly great museum that is also very friendly and comfortable to visit.
Wonderful thread Bixa, I especially appreciated seeing the pottery which is usually the section I head to first. The doll's house is fascinating. Its been about 15 years plus since I visited and I had forgotten what an absolutely wonderful museum it is.
Very belated thanks, Lugg! Sorry there wasn't more pottery to show -- it is the hardest thing to photograph, although I get why it has to be encased in glass. I tried to find you a youtube from 15 years ago. Didn't succeed in that, but saw that at one time the walls of the museum were wallpaper. Surprising. I did however find this gem: