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Amsterdam, Day 5, Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank

We went straight to the the Rijksmuseum this morning.  We had barely scratched the surface when we went before.  We went back to the “Gallery of Honor”, where they have the Vermeers and some of the Rembrandts, with others as well.  Then we went all the way around the entire floor, which was of the Vermeer and Rembrandt era, with another room with some really exquisite Rembrandts.  Also, there is a still life painter, Coorte, for which they make tote bags and mugs and coasters in the bookshop, but no books or postcards but one exist.  The one book on him had only postage-stamp-sized pictures of his paintings, but all kinds of pictures of him, where he lived, etc.  I checked on Amazon.  No books on him in print.   They had one magnificent Heda in the Gallery of Honor.  I wish they had more of his work.

The Rijksmuseum is very Netherlands-oriented, very much containing Dutch work rather than art from all over, which is lovely.  Obviously Rembrandt and Vermeer, but also the “Dutch Impressionists” and The Hague School, influenced by the Barbizon school.  There were lots I really liked, including Isaac Israel’s Donkeyride.  There were also  seven Liotard pastels. I actually was only thrilled by Woman in Turkish Dress, the rest being rather dull portraits and such, but that one was stunning.

I was frustrated that, while they have several really wonderful Rembrandts, there were none of his more obscure works on display and zero of his works on paper.   I expected the Rijksmuseum to have more of the things we don’t see reproduced over and over, as thrilling as those are.  And how can they exhibit absolutely no Rembrandt prints or drawings when he was such a master in those media?  There is a place called the Rijksprintenkabinet mentioned in the Rijksmuseum guide book, and it has a separate address, which I gleaned from much Googling, but even the guards at the Rijksmuseum hadn’t heard of it.  I think the print rooms on each floor are all that one gets to see of the print collection.  While we were there, there were flower prints on every floor, no Rembrandts, not one.

I know it’s easier with a more recent painter, and a very prolific one at that, but I wish the Rijksmuseum had the kind of display of Rembrandt’s work that the Van Gogh Museum has of Van Gogh’s work.  Yes, the Rijksmuseum is not the Rembrandt Museum, but he lived and worked in Amsterdam and we’re talking about Rembrandt for heaven’s sake.  What do you have to do to rate a bit more special treatment, the paintings and other works together in the galleries, with lots of his work, not just the ones with the most appeal?  I really thought they would have more of his work presented in a more concentrated way, not spread over several rooms, and not just the greatest hits.  However, I did drink in those paintings they had.  They were absolutely amazing to see in person.

I didn’t take pictures of paintings because there isn’t any point in taking poor quality pictures.  Plus, I don’t want to be like those people at the Met in New York, snapping pictures by the thousands and not really looking at anything.

Jim’s dad gave us a really large model of the HMS Victory.  This Dutch East India Company boat model is bigger.

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Enlarge any picture by clicking.

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I really want one or a pair of these flower towers. Maybe not quite as large as these. image

It’s good to know that knitting has a very long shelf life.  These hats were taken off the skulls of whalers who died in the 17th century.  Apparently the pattern of the hats let them recognize one another as they were too bundled up to see each other’s faces.

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It’s nice to know Playmobil has a sense of humor.  Better than tote bags!

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After the museum, we had about a half hour walk to the business of Anne Frank’s father, where her family of four, another family of three, and a dentist were hidden for two years.  It was a very sobering experience, but I’m glad we did it.  Very weird to be in the building and actually walk through the doorway with the bookcase attached to it that the family and their helpers used as access to the hidden space.

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It was fascinating to hear of childhood friends of hers that had seen her in Bergen-Belsen just before she died, and also one of the people who helped hide her.  It is so sobering to think that we have not made inroads into how viciously we treat each other, with people all over the world beheading, chopping with machetes, making children kill, and all the other atrocities that are going on right now.  And it certainly brings to mind the current refugee crises that Otto Frank , Anne’s father, and, of course, hundreds of thousands of others, tried for years to emigrate, to the US among other places.

We had seen a restaurant called Cafe Peru on our way to the Anne Frank house, and we stopped to eat dinner there.  Such a lovely contrast with last night.  Not crowded, not put in the basement, nice, quiet waiter who was very accommodating, and the food and wine were excellent.  We had a view of a canal.  Just lovely.  Then a bit of a roundabout walk back, with me asking Jim if he really knew where he was going, then him stopping after ten minutes or so and us walking back to the restaurant to go in the opposite direction. :-)  Amsterdam is so lovely that extra walking is just a bonus.

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