After days of big car trips to various parts of Holland, we decided to take a gentler journey, hopping on public transit and visiting Den Haag’s city centre. Considering the grey, it was the perfect day for galleries and museums!
We started in Mauritshuis, an intimate museum with great works of Dutch art displayed in a beautiful 17th-century house.
When visiting galleries and museums, I almost never partake in audio tours. I like to follow my own pace and preferences, not a predetermined path. Plus, I find that when the headphones are on, the conversation stops and part of the delight is discussing your art encounter! At Mauritshuis, I did take advantage of their wonderful app. With a click you could learn more about the work that grabbed you and it was particularly useful to have all this information in English!
Clearly a favourite at the gallery was The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius. As we came across this painting, a young woman stood in front of it almost bursting with excitement. She had loved this painting for so long and now, for the first time, they were meeting in person. This brings to mind Bill Hayes’ wonderful concept of owning works of art by building a meaningful relationship with them. (A Monet of One’s Own. Thank you, Kelly Besecke for introducing me to this piece!)
There is the most buzz and excitement around The Girl with a Pearl Earring be Vermeer. Something about this work draws people in. Even when I shared it on Instagram, the response was passionate, immediate and strong. I was surprised to learn that this is not a portrait but rather a character sketch drawn from Vermeer’s imagination. Clearly what spoke to him about this imaginary woman still speaks to us today.
As we did in every city, we stopped for coffee. This hip and unique spot brought together two Holland favourites: coffee and bikes!
The next stop showed me creative work like I have never experienced before: Panorama Mesdag. The main display is Holland’s biggest painting, a huge circular marine panorama of Den Haag. When you emerge from the staircase into the round room display it literally destabilizes your senses. It takes a moment to adjust and to take in the vast re-creation of a time and place through artistry. In the picture I’ve shared, the foreground is actually sand with real props sitting in front of a painting of convincing perspective. I can only imagine the wonder it caused during its time!
Our visit to the panorama also brought one of the most wondrous surprises of the journey, an exhibit by the artist Patrick Hughes. He is the creator of “reverspective” which I hope the video captures for you. This was nothing like I have ever seen before. The artwork is static and three-dimensional but as you move it appears to move as well, almost like a video right in front of your eyes. We were captivated!
It was often the thought and the humour in Patrick Hughes’ work that moved me. So much so that I bought a guidebook so I could revisit his words and his paintings often. Unfortunately my very favourite piece was not represented, so I’m glad that I took a photo. When I saw this piece, I fell in love. There was something about the open space, dotted with the colour of seed packets held to the canvas by sticks poked through the surface. And when I read the title, Hope, my eyes filled with tears.
I loved the delights of Den Haag, including this discovery of a painted horse. This particularly caught my eye because Toronto is filled with similar pieces, though our painted animal of choice is the moose.