I really need to quit travelling so much as I have so many half-written posts now, spanning three continents… and I am travelling again, knocking off country #48… have decided the best strategy is to just start in the past and knock them off country by country… so my current travel destination will be revealed in future… some of the post were written in the moment so we’ll stay there, even if the moment was in 2013 🙂
With the preamble out of the way, let’s go to Amsterdam! First with a post from last autumn…
I booked this trip so my KLM points wouldn’t expire. But I also wanted to check out the renovations of the Rijksmuseum. It has been going on for years and finally completed in April 2013.
They promised me a brand new museum last night and I think they were not mistaken. It’s been a long time since my first visit to the Rijksmuseum but the 21st century version is definitely impressive. And crowded!
I followed Dutch history chronologically from 1100 through 1050 but I would recommend you head for the Rembrandt gallery as soon as the museum opens!
It wasn’t quite the Louvre in July, when I made my mom and niece line up half an hour before opening – and then dash to all the really famous sites within the first hour before the Louvre turns into an iphone launch scenario, but I bet Rembrandt wishes he’d been able to brand himself and put the Nightwatch on t-shirts in his day 😉
the rembrandt masterpiece
My first viewing of the Nightwatch was a transformative experience. I was on my first European tour and learning art history by visiting many of the world’s greatest museums. By the time I encountered Rembrandt I knew a little about art – and could recognize his extraordinary rendering of light.
I was certainly impressed by my first viewing of Nightwatch but this time I understood much better the extraordinary talent it took to capture not just the light – but all the movements of the various players in the portrait. As I learned today, guild portraits normally had a bunch of stationary posed figures like a high school graduation photo. Rembrandt’s lively composition was an evolution in Dutch art.
The evolution of Dutch art – and the Netherlands – is celebrated in grand style in the new/old Rijksmuseum. I am still evolving in my understanding of Dutch – and European – history. But there is definitely much that can be learned from the Dutch. According to the Rijksmuseum, for a few centuries this tiny country was the most prosperous in the entire world – and even then there was a push toward a fairer distribution of wealth.
If the crowds snapping photos in the Rembrandt Gallery today are any indication, I am not the only one fascinated by the Dutch 😉 Like the Dutch, its beauty and power are subtle and you really need to see it in person. No doubt you will become a fan – not just of Rembrandt, but of the Dutch who bred him 🙂