Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Hauge

The Hauge is such a fun place, there are so many different vibes happening in this city. It reminded me a lot of Charleston and Savannah with large, white mansions nestled on the bank
 of the river. It's also a relaxed beach town, yet also has a very strong European and Dutch feel with flower covered bridges, and pedestrians and bicyclists filling the small sidewalks and streets.

 "The Netherlands' third-largest city, Den Haag, is a stately, regal place filled with embassies and mansions, green boulevards and parks, a refined culinary scene, a clutch of fine museums and a sybaritic cafe culture. Conversely, its seaside suburb of Scheveningen has a loud and lively atmosphere and a long stretch of beach. Officially known as ’s-Gravenhage (the Count's Hedge), Den Haag is the Dutch seat of government and home to the royal family. Prior to 1806, Den Haag was the Dutch capital. However, that year, Louis Bonaparte installed his government in Amsterdam. Eight years later, when the French had been ousted, the government returned to Den Haag, but the title of capital remained with Amsterdam."

Our first stop in this unique city was at the Peace Palace. We didn't have the time to take a tour of the inside, we just had time to take a quick look around the grounds. There was a young couple taking some gorgeous wedding photos in a classic, red car which was a fun little surprise. 

The Palace officially opened on 28 August 1913, and was originally built to provide a home for the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a court created to end war by the Hague Convention of 1899. Andrew Dickson White, whose efforts were instrumental in creating the court, secured from his friend American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie US$1.5 million to build the Peace Palace. Today, the Palace is an international law administrative building that is often called "the seat of international law" because it houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration and International Court of Justice (which is the principal judicial body of the United Nations), as well as the Hague Academy of International Law and the Peace Palace Library.

My favorite part of this stop was the Just Imagine Wish Tree. Apparently, this trend started with an art instillation by Yoko Ono sometime in the 1980s

"Imagine all the people living life in peace" - John Lennon

"A dream you dream alone is just a dream, 
A dream you dream together is reality" - Yoko Ono

It was a very sweet moment in time, reading through some of the wishes visitors from all over the world had tied to the tree. Wishes were written in a variety of different languages and from people of all ages.

After our brief stop at the Peace Palace, we headed towards our main event for the afternoon, the Mauritshius Museum. More than two hundred top works from Dutch and Flemish masters are on display in the historic yet intimate interior, with its silken wall coverings, sparkling chandeliers and monumental painted ceilings.  Genre paintings by Jan Steen, landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, still lifes by Adriaen Coorte and portraits by Rubens offer a rich and varied representation of the best of seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting.

This museum has made it's way on to my list of my top 3 favorite museums, along with the Frick in New York and the Galleria Borghese in Rome. I love small, intimate and ornate museums, where the buildings themselves are just as beautiful as the works they showcase. While there are many priceless and well known works of art in this museum, the two main draws are:

The Gold Finch
Carel Fabritius 1654
The painting is a trompe-l'œil of a European goldfinch, in the 17th century, goldfinches were popular pets because they could be trained to draw water from a bowl with a miniature bucket. The work was painted without major corrections, with only minor ones to the contours of the bird. Most of the painting is set up with large brush strokes, but details such as the chain are painted with more precision. Fabritius showed off his skill by painting the bird's head foreshortenedIt is one of three paintings that Fabritius painted in the year that he died. It is painted in a style distinct from Fabritius' master Rembrandt. In style, the work is closer to Fabritius' supposed pupil Johannes Vermeer, who further improved the skill of painting shadows.
(Yes, I have read the book that is linked to this painting and I absolutely hated it. Well actually, I disliked it so much that I couldn't even bring myself to finish it, I didn't want to waste anymore of my time on such a horrible storyline. It is a shame that such a terrible book should be written about such a beautiful painting. However, that is just my opinion, I know plenty of people who love the book. So, please, no negative comments.)

The Girl With The Pearl Earring
Johannes Vermeer c. 1665

Girl with a Pearl Earring was originally titled, Girl with a Turban, it wasn't until the second half of the twentieth century that the name was changed. Regarded as Vermeer's masterpiece, this canvas is often referred to as the Mona Lisa of the North or the Dutch Mona LisaThe girl in this painting is believed to be Vermeer's eldest daughter, Maria, who was about twelve or thirteen-years-old at the time it was created. The turban demonstrates the influence of other countries as various slaves came to the Netherlands and explorers would bring back new exotic artifacts and inventions. It's likely that this image was a tronie, Dutch 17th-century description of a 'head' painting that was not intended as a portrait.

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholas Tulp
Rembrandt 1632

Rembrandt was only 25 years old when he was commissioned to paint this group portrait, and was a newcomer to Amsterdam. This is a more complicated composition than it at first appears. Understandably, the focal point of the image is Dr. Tulp, the doctor who is shown displaying the flexors of the cadaver’s left arm. Rembrandt notes the doctor’s significance by showing him as the only person who wears a hat. Seven colleagues surround Dr. Tulp, and they look in a variety of directions—some gaze at the cadaver, some stare at the lecturer, and some peek directly at the viewer. Each face displays a facial expression that is deeply personal and psychological. The cadaver—a recently executed thief named Adriaen Adriaenszoon—lies nearly parallel to the picture plane. Viewing the illuminated body from his head to his feet brings into focus a book—likely Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica (Fabric of the Human Body, 1543)—propped up in the lower right corner. In all, Rembrandt shows nine distinct figures, but does so as if they are a unified group. All nine figures' names are written on the paper the gentleman in the back is holding.

Vase of Flowers in a Window
Ambrosius Bosschaert 1618
This painting of a colouful bouquet of thirty types of flowers is a masterly work by Ambrosius Bosschaert. He depicted the flowers meticulously, so that each one is easily recognisable. This painting provides an overview of the most beautiful flowers known to Bosschaert, including the tulip, which was still a rarity in Holland at the time. Bosschaert based his bouquet on separate sketches he had made throughout the year. This allowed him to compose a bouquet of flowers that, in real life, do not bloom at the same time. Floral still lifes were especially prominent in the early 1600s, and in their highly refined execution and in their subjects and symbolism were addressed to a cultivated audience. 

I did a lot of research on these Dutch floral still lifes in college and completely fell in love with them. Their attention to detail and symbolism could have me studying one painting for hours. Ambrosius Bosschaert was known as the best in this genre, so to see one of his paintings up close, in real life, was amazing.

Self Portrait
Rembrandt Van Rijn 1669
No seventeenth-century artist made as many self-portraits as Rembrandt did. This self-portrait dates from 1669, the year Rembrandt died, so it may be the last he painted. The expressive freedom of style shows that Rembrandt was certainly not exhausted at the end of his life. The way he painted the face with strong brushstrokes is remarkable. With thick layers of paint that are almost modeled, Rembrandt suggests a man of flesh and blood. This is a true masterpiece.

The Garden of Eden With the Fall of Man
Jan Brueghel I & Peter Paul Rubens c. 1615

This painting is by two famous Flemish masters: Rubens and Brueghel. They made several of this type of painting, which were intended as showpieces that combined the best of the two artists.
Although Brueghel was responsible for the composition, Rubens started the painting. Very sketchily, in thin paint, he painted Adam and Eve, the tree, the horse and the serpent. Then Brueghel took on the plants and animals, which he painted with encyclopedic precision in finishing paint.

After a very wonderful afternoon in the Hauge at the gorgeous Mauritshuis Museum, it was time to head back to the ship for dinner. It had been a very jam packed day and I was ready for a good meal and a good nights rest so I would be ready for the next day's adventure.


  1. I did not even see the peace garden, hmmmm Great post on the paintings and their background. I remember you enjoyed this one at your own pace. I'm glad you got the pearl earrings. They will always remind you of this fun art cruise.

  2. really enjoyed your post, photos which are gorgeous, and that Wish Tree. My sister has seen one in the area where she lives.