Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Amsterdam Art Report

Please follow me on a short art walk through the halls of Amsterdam's  Rijksmuseum, zooming in on some of their collection highlights.

As some of you may know, their most famous work of art—their crown jewel, their pièce de résistance—is Rembrandt's Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, or as most people call it, The Night Watch (1642).

Here it is, in all it's glory, as captured by my crappy cell phone camera. Mmm. Aah. Exquisite!

Ok, done.

Now, let's move on to some more interesting pieces in the same hall. First, I want to focus on Militiamen of the Company of Captain Roelof Bicker and Lieutenant Jan Michielsz by Bartholomeus van der Helst (1639). More dudes with hats and gunsokay, okay we've seen that already. But hey, what's this? Ruffles, tassles, pom-poms, rosettes...? These guys are fancy!

Seriously, these gold-fringed pants and lace socks deserve a closer look.

Dude, you're rocking that outfit.

All right, what else is on display here? How about Militia Company of District XI under the Command of Captain Reynier Reael, a.k.a. The Meagre Company, Frans Hals, Pieter Codde (1637). My eyes were instantly drawn to the solemn guy on the far right—his ability to look so extraordinarly glum whilst being wrapped in that chic ribbon is really quite impressive. I'd like to think he spent many hours in front of the mirror working on that poker face.


Another gem was found on the same floor, albeit in a different hall. You know how proud parents like to keep (embarrassing) pictures of their kids on the mantlepiece? It's hardly a new phenomenon; just have a peek at Portrait of Gerard Andriesz Bicker, Bartholomeus van der Helst (c. 1642).

There are so many things that could be said about this marvelous portrait, but I'm going to focus on two key points: i) the fact that the lovely Gerard, shown above, is twenty years old (twenty, as in two zero, 20, twenty!); ii) his clothes, which are described by the museum curators in the following way: "Gerard wears a colourful and showy outfit with a flat collar and elegant gloves." Showy and elegant, now that's just so Gerard!

Elegant is a word that is used also to describe one of my number one (perhaps the number one) works of art at the museum: Designs for Bathing Caps, H.Th. Wijdeweld (1885-1987). Again, let me refer to the curators' description of this collection of aquarelles: "These jolly bathing caps were inspired by aquatic themes. In the designs, seahorses, fish, and seaweed are draped elegantly around the head."

Draped. Elegantly. Around. The head.

This may be hands down the best thing I have ever seen. What better way to finish this short report? None. Thank you and have a good night.


  1. I'm curious as to what you thought of the Vermeer...those would be my favorites, although I agree that the detail on the 17th century paintings is remarkable

    1. Well, here I'm mostly being silly... To be honest, neither Rembrandt nor Vermeer interest me to any higher degree in terms of art/aesthetics. The technical quality is something completely different though - especially if we're talking Vermeer. If you haven't seen it, you should definitely have a look at the documentary film "Tim's Vermeer" (2013). Fascinating, to say the least!

    2. Oy! I must be really tired, I think it took me 'til the fat kid before I realized you were being facetious :)
      I should refrain from posting until I get more sleep.
      Take care

  2. Hahahaha!!!!! Underbart :-D

  3. Alltså, badmössan. Ge mig den! :D