Day 3: Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum

This exhibition which goes until June brings together more of Vermeer’s paintings than ever before – and possibly ever again, given the cost and their fragility – 28 of the 37 or so known works. The show has received ecstatic reviews and tickets sold out soon after the exhibition began. Luckily I ordered online in advance.

Initially, the area in front of the Rijksmuseum seemed quiet, but that must have been because everyone was inside.

We could not get anything from the garden café (technical problems) and the museum restaurant wasn’t open for breakfast. We got coffee and a muffin from a kiosk on the Museumplein. The air was cool but the sunshine made for a pleasant morning.

Our timed tickets worked like a charm. The museum has the Vermeer exhibition set up in the new area of the building. Entry was timed to space out visitors which I understood was done for crowd control, but once we got to the first room, it was clear the crowd control did not mean crowd-free.

It was impossible to get directly in front unless you were prepared to wait for a good number of minutes. And when you were directly in front, people shoved their cameras or phones in front of you so they could take a photo. I’m tempted to say people were rude but being short, I frequently find people do not notice me and when they are looking ahead, walk in front of me like I’m not there.

This is a Rembrandt but typical of my experience.

Luckily, I had seen most of the paintings before, in less crowded conditions, and they can be found online often in high definition, which is helpful since some are so small.

I had not seen some of his early works, which, quite frankly, I did not think were that great.

His best works are about contemplation and silence, which is why the curators chose to locate only a few paintings in each room, sometimes only one painting in a room, and used dark, quiet colours and drapery. The efforts now turn out to be ironic given the crowded and sometimes noisy conditions.

[Why do people bring their screaming children to museums where they are clearly bored out of their minds or way past nap time? We also saw totally bored teenagers, but at least they are quiet as they wear their sulky looks on their faces. What a waste of tickets.]

This is not to say the exhibition wasn’t worthwhile. Mainly, it wasn’t worthwhile trying to get photos. Seeing, within one visit in a short span of time, the motifs, backgrounds, and props that Vermeer repeatedly used made the viewing very educational and spoke to the themes of his later works.

After, we looked at some of the Rembrandt works. The Night Watch is enclosed for research. Sadly, I heard someone say she had no idea what this painting was. Maybe I’m just an art nerd but I thought this was up there with Mona Lisa for being famous.

Here’s some of my favourite self-portraits:

It was getting past lunch time and Scott had his fill of art viewing so we did not look at more of the museum and went looking for food—much needed after the light breakfast. Along the way, we had to take a photo of the little car-come-enclosed-scooters we keep seeing. This one actually had two seats but the second seat must be for a chihuahua.

Stopped for lunch at a place called Oeuf but served wine so Scott was happy.

Eggs Benedict

After we went for a relaxing massage. No photos—luckily. But here’s the street near the spa.

Some street art as we returned to the hotel:

For dinner reservations, I employed the algorithm of booking recommended restaurants that had a woman chef. That did not work for every place and every meal, but for every place we are going to, I found at least one conveniently located restaurant headed by a female chef. The first was Maris Piper, which was, as it turned out, really close to our hotel. The place had very high points and some lows.

Homemade bread and almond butter
BBQ artichoke

Scott’s duck was not hot or even warm and his chocolate mousse had a long hair in it. But the artichoke was very interesting, the beef dripping French fries, bread, and the fennel salad with smoked almonds were fantastic. My spring chicken was really moist and accompanied by a buttery au jus.

After being comp’ed the dessert, the total cost was one-third of our usual pre-concert dinner across from the Jack Singer concert hall.

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