Art from the Sofa
I have spent this morning in the Netherlands. First stop was the Mauritshuis Museum, home to the very best of Dutch Golden Age painting. Thanks to the wonders of the museum’s link up with Google Street View, I wandered through the intimate galleries, peering out of windows to catch glimpses of the Hauge, marvelling at the ornate silk-lined walls and, joy of joys, getting so close to the paintings that I could see individual brushstrokes. I examined every wrinkle of Rembrandt’s extraordinary 1669 self-portrait, every feather of Carl Fabritius’ ‘The Goldfinch’, and every gleam and shadow in Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’.
Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, c. 1665, Mauritshuis, The Hague
I then stopped for coffee, before heading off to Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum, who have responded to their closure with a new online platform, ‘Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close,’ that allows visitors to explore the famous Gallery of Honour at our own pace. Home to some of the world’s most celebrated paintings, including Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’, ‘The Jewish Bride’ and Vermeer’s ‘The Milkmaid’, this gallery is usually so full of people that you have to bob and weave between them to see anything. Today, I had the place to myself and I spent a happy hour zooming in on the tiniest details in the company of curators who drew my attention to subtle plays of light and shared the stories contained within some of the paintings.
The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642, Rijksmuseum © NBTC, courtesy Holland Media Bank
I can’t wait for these wonderful art institutions to open their doors once more (you can visit them on our Dutch Quilting and Autumn Highlights programme, find out more here), but my virtual visit was a truly uplifting voyage of discovery. I plan to return very soon.