Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Cultural Overload!

We're back home after a lovely weekend where we have walked for miles and miles and have been totally immersed in the most amazing artwork. After a very early start on Saturday we spent our first day in Amsterdam just strolling along the canalsides, exploring the streets and soaking up the atmosphere.

We had a lingering lunch in what we named the "Bloomin' Market" ... actually the Bloemenmarkt, where the colours on the many floating flower stalls were just dazzling. We bought several packets of tulip bulbs to plant in the garden, so that next spring we can remember our trip.

Sunday we took the train to Den Haag, solely to visit the Mauritshuis, a small but exquisite gallery with the most amazing collection of Old Masters. My two favourite paintings were these by Vermeer and Rubens. The light captured in both was truely amazing. I had thought I might be disappointed with "Girl with a Pearl Earring" as it such a well known image but that was not the case. It was stunning! Worth the journey for that alone.

Back in Amsterdam on Monday we spent the morning at the Rijksmuseum for more work by Rembrandt and another masterpiece from Vermeer. Again these were absolutely stunning.

And finally in the afternoon we visited the Van Gogh Museum where there are 200 of his paintings on display as well as drawings and letters. The vast majority of the paintings are well known images and are fabulous to see close up. We had an audioguide which had readings of Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo accompanying the paintings which made for an incrediably emotional journey as it charted his struggle with illness through to his suicide and explained so much of what he was trying to achieve through his work. Fabulous work but so sad.

I became very excited by this self portrait (one of several on display) as I could see it translating beautifully into stitch. All that wonderful build up of colour and mark making. I'm sure I'm not the first person to have thought this.
I didn't get very much done in my own sketchbook while we were away - just a few quick sketches while we sat having lunch but I'm working in my Opus sketchbook today so maybe more of that tomorrow if I get anything finished.


  1. It sounds as though you had a wonderful time soaking up the atmosphere and wonderful paintings. I have always liked the "Girl with a Pearl Earring" - it was one of the first art postcards I bought. Have you read the novel of the same name by Tray Chevalier? It is very evocative of the time and place.
    I love Van Gogh's work. I have seen some of his original work and you can feel the energy and vigour pouring out of the canvas. His brushmarks are so powerful and his colours are amazing. As you say,Gina, so sad that his life was so tortured.

  2. Sorry the author is Tracy Chevalier


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