The Vermeer Exhibition and Amsterdam
The Barefoot Blogger stumbles into more good things than I deserve. A ticket to the sold-out Vermeer Exhibition in Amsterdam was my latest “strike it rich” feat. For this, I owe a big “thank you” to friends in Uzès who made it happen.
With a Vermeer ticket in hand and a dog sitter for Fanny, I left Uzès anxious to see Amsterdam — a place I visited fifty-plus years ago on “Europe-on-$5-a-Day.” Yes, Amsterdam was one stop along the way for this college girl. Can you believe that while roaming through the streets on this trip, I found where I hung out in 1966!? And the youth hostel, where we stayed overnight. Serendipity!
Admittedly, I remember very little about Amsterdam- too much beer and too little sleep. But I do recall the Rijksmuseum.
The Rijksmuseum was founded in 1800 but was not open to the public until 1885. The museum’s design, planning, and funding issues contributed to the long wait. The Napoleonic Wars and economic instability in the Netherlands during the early 19th century were delay factors, too. Today the magnificent institution houses one of the world’s leading art museums.
A rich collection of Dutch masterpieces, including Rembrandt’s works and Vermeer’s paintings, contributes to the Rijksmuseum’s global reputation and appeal. It is consistently recognized as one of the world’s premier art museums, alongside the Louvre Museum, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
“The Night Watch” is regarded as one of the most famous paintings in the world. The painting attracts millions of visitors annually who admire its impressive size (over 14 feet wide) and Rembrandt’s technique. The museum also houses an extensive collection of other works by Rembrandt, including his portraits, biblical scenes, and etchings, showcasing his artistic legacy.
The Vermeer Exhibition
The “sold out” exhibition of Johannes Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum is the “hottest” art event of the year and perhaps the most extensive collection of the 17th Century Dutch painter’s work to be shown again. The once-in-a-lifetime show brings together 28 of the 37 known works of the artist from museums worldwide.
Vermeer’s popularity has lasted for years, and his paintings are highly regarded and recognized. “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is perhaps Vermeer’s most famous work. It has become an iconic image in Western art. It features a young woman wearing an exotic turban and an oversized pearl earring. She stares into the distance with a mesmerizing gaze. The painting was part of the exhibition for a short time — not when I was there.
Vermeer spent his entire life in Delft in the Netherlands, an area well known for its influential artists. He created a relatively small number of paintings — around 34 to 36 works. Known for his realistic, meticulous style, Vermeer’s gift for capturing light and creating a sense of depth and atmosphere in his paintings adds to their timeless appeal.
Vermeer’s works often depict domestic scenes, such as “The Milkmaid,” pouring milk into a container.
He captures intimate moments such as a lady and gentleman at a table with a glass of wine in the woman’s hand — “The Wine Glass.” Perhaps, we think, she is sampling her first taste of wine.
Whether it is an individual in quiet reflection or the stillness of a cityscape, Vermeer could capture a moment frozen in time.
Amsterdam today is a far cry from the place Vermeer may have known in the 1600s on his visits from Delph. But it’s not so different from the city I remember in the late 60s. The landscape of the town is still lined with tall houses and canals. Some buildings have been refurbished, while others have been repurposed for different uses, such as residential, commercial, or cultural purposes.
The historic canal belt, known as the Grachtengordel, which includes four main canals, has retained its charm and historical and cultural significance. It was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010.
Did I mention the bikes? Yike! With bike lanes, street cars, and buses everywhere, Amsterdam keeps pedestrians on their toes. Kudos to Amsterdam’s efforts for sustainable transportation.
My Favorite Bites
After visiting the Vermeer Exhibition with friends who live part-time in Amsterdam and part in Uzès, I joined them for an outstanding Turkish dinner at the Levant. The traditional Dutch pancakes and poffertjes at the Pancake Club and the street food I sampled for the next couple of days will stick with me forever — in more ways than one. Dinner at the “Chef’s Bar” at Midtown Grill was simply amazing.
If you would like to know more about the life and work of Vermeer, I strongly recommend you spend time here — the Rijksmuseum and the film and narrative by Stephen Frye. It’s a masterpiece of photography and storytelling.
Did Fanny miss me? When I returned home and laid out my suitcase, look who jumped in!