Sunday, March 7, 2010

Amsterdam Part 1 - Rijks Museum

A trip so extensive, it cant be contained in one post. Dannielle, our friend Ines, and I spent 3 days in the city and had the best time. Staying at a small, and rather dreary hostel, naturally we spent the majority of our time out and about. We were able to visit the 2 main museums, the Rijks Museum and the Van Gogh Museum, as well as about 6-7 galleries throughout the Art District (as well as the Anne Frank House).

The Rijks Museum was a really incredible experience. I got to see so much prolific work, only ever viewed in my art history textbook. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Willem Van de Velde I (the elder)
Battle of Livorne (1655)
Ink on Canvas 114 x 160 cm

This piece is completely overwhelming. A large canvas done only with ink, pen nib and washes, it is truly a masterpiece. The line work is so unbelievably thin, almost as it it were a large etching. The true mastery of this medium is thoroughly awe-inspiring and meticulous that I draw immense amounts of inspiration from such work.
A little history: Willem Van de Velde the Elder (1611-1693) was a Dutch artist, a marine draughtsman and painter. He worked for the official artist for the Dutch fleet for many years, making sketches of epic battles to be interpreted for newspapers, large scale work, and above all, posterity (truly, an early illustration pioneer). His son, Willem the Younger was also a prolific marine painter.

Gerard de Lairesse
"The Allegory of Sciences" (1965-83)
oil on canvas 289 x 161cm

This painting struck me at the sheer mastery of the subject. Gerard de Lairesse was commissioned by Filips de Flines, a wealthy businessman who purchased a home in Amsterdam. Lairesse completed 5 imitation bas-relief sculpture paintings for the De Flines house, starting in 1675. This painting represents the Allegory of Sciences; the Liberal Arts are gathered around Pallas Athena's feet. Each one of the allegory paintings represent Charity, Wealth, Fame, The Arts, and Science; the epitome of high society in the Nederlands.
The rendering of statues is so remarkable, a truly challenging subject. I was really taken aback by the size and believability of the piece, that I felt it necessary to share. In terms of Art History, this is a classic example the return of Classical reverence and style.

Frans Hals
"The Merry Drinker" (1628-30)
Oil on Canvas 81 x 66.5 cm

Frans Hals, always a favorite. It was so wonderful to finally see this piece in person. His brushwork is his trademark; something so light and effortless about the strokes, but its the right hue, right value, and right mark in the right place, always. (though it took him many years to complete, and I am sure, upon close inspection many layers to try and find that "right mark")

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn
"The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch"
"The Night Watch" (1642)
Oil on Canvas 363 x 437cm

Again, a prolific piece I feel so honored to have finally seen. It was interesting to note, and compare the final piece to the smaller study (hanging next to it) showing the composition in its original entirety, prior to 1715. In 1715, the painting was moved to the Amsterdam Town Hall, the painting was cropped down on all 4 sides, to fit between two columns. Its really a great loss to the painting, for it detracts from the movement Rembrandt was trying to evoke (from right to left). Also interesting to note, the painting was once covered in a dark varnish, giving the impression of a night scene, however in the 1940's the varnish was removed to reveal the true luminosity underneath. I had no real idea about Rembrandt's impasto technique either, until seeing the paintings in real life. This thick texture is just as important as the composition, and lighting of Rembrandt's pantings, and something only noted when breathing the air around it. Its like viewing a sacred relic for an artist, to be introduced to something you've talked about your whole life, and finally getting to see it in person.

These were just a mere few highlights from the museum.
Other artists that caught my eye:
  • Bartholomeus van der Helst
  • Dirck van Delen
  • Jan de Baen
  • Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne
  • Adam Willarerts
  • Johannes Torrentius
  • Gerard van Honthorst
  • Caesar Boetius van Everdingen
  • Jan Asselijn
  • Johannes Vermeer
  • Pieter de Hooch
  • Willem van Aelst
  • Gerard der Borch
  • Cornelis Pietersz Bega
  • Jan de Visscher
  • Barent Gail
  • Cornelis Dusant
  • Jan van Somer
All in all, a very epic journey. However this hardly scratches the surface on all of the art and culture we soaked up. Stay tuned for Part 2 of Amsterdam!

1 comment:

  1. Good to read this, Laura....would also like to know what you saw in galleries. Please try to post more often...
    Glad things are going so well!