London And Amsterdam 2013

September 19  beckman figures

Stedelijk Museum. Wonderful! Began with rich, red-orange sunset over moored boats by Max Beckmann. Kandinsky’s large canvases of dancing designs and swaths of pure, bright colors invigorate. Mondrian’s brainteaser linear intersections and Max Pechstein’s figures in purple, green and fire red lightened my mood. Two large canvases by Chagall were a revelation to me. I’d seen his fanciful paintings in France years ago and couldn’t quite connect with the light heartedness of them. In fact, I thought they were a little simplistic and insipid. Silly me. These two Chagall’s were highly chromatic and rich in detail and technique. One is a self portrait of  the artist at the easel. Very nice blending technique in the curls of his hair. The other is a fiddler wandering the streets of the artists’s village in Belarus, multicolored footsteps in the snow.

One level of the museum was dedicated to design from the 1930’s. Textiles, home decor, appliances, v&a 2furniture, toys and more. Fun. Cake and coffee in the museum cafe. The Dutch have such good take away salads at the market we had them again this night. So much easier than trekking out to a restaurant after a day on weary feet and aching knees.

September 20

Ah, magic! Rembrandt’s house and museum. This is where Rembrandt and family lived for years before he declared bankruptcy for inability to pay his mortgage. It has been restored with furnishings and paintings consistent with the 17th century. His wife, Saskia, gave birth to Titus here and Rembrandt lived here with two housekeepers who became his mistresses after Saskia’s death. The house is a typical Dutch, four story building with the kitchen belowground. The levels are accessed by a narrow, worn wooden stairway that spirals up from one floor to the next. There’s a big, stone sink, stone floors and white plastered walls and a wide hearth in the kitchen. The maids cupboard bed occupies one end of the room. People used to sleep partially sitting up in the 17th century for fear of suffocation if they lay flat, so the beds are unusually short. etching studio@rembrandt huis

The next floor was the etching room, sitting room and parlor. A big, wooden press is still in use here. A docent shows visitors how an etching is made using old plates for restrikes. The sitting room has a large wooden chest that belonged to Saskia, a bureau and a couple of chairs. Paintings hang on the walls throughout the house, some Rembrandt’s and others by his contemporaries. The parlor where Rembrandt met with his patrons is spare. There’s a tiled fireplace with figure sculptures on either side, and chairs against the walls. The third floor is the studio and bedroom with a large, four poster bed. Displays show how canvases were stretched and paints were made by mulling dry pigments. The upper floor where Rembrandt taught his students is now a gallery exhibiting contemporary artists. Slow canal cruise back to the hotel.  pigments@rembrandts huispaul@rembrandt huisamsterdam canal boat

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