Mauritshuis – The Hague NL

mauritshuis

The Dutch Classicist style Mauritshuis in The Hague

THE TRIP
One month housesit in The Netherlands. A great selection of museums in The Hague, The Mauritshuis was my first choice due to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring in the permanent collection.

LOCATION
In the heart of The Hague bordering the Binnenhof and the adjacent Hofvijver pond.

ARCHITECTURE
The Dutch Classicist house was built around 1636 for John Maurice, the governor of Dutch Brazil. The original two story, symmetrical building with a central great hall, was expanded by an underground tunnel to the Sociëteit de Witte building next door and reopened in 2014. Sumptuously decorated with silk wall coverings and painted ceilings, it is one of the top Dutch 100 heritage sites.

COLLECTION
Paintings from the Golden Age, by Dutch and Flemish masters, the Royal Cabinet of Paintings was a collection from William V, Prince of Orange. Highlights are Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp and Paulus Potter’s The Young Bull.

FREE ADMISSION
Purchase a Museumkaart and visit for free, also can be used at Gemeentemuseum and over a dozen other museums in The Hague.

REFRESHMENT
The Brasserie offers  a fusion Dutch meets the Far East menu and jazz concerts every Thursday evening.

selfies hall

Selfies of the Golden Age – Selfie Hall

SPECIAL EXHIBITION
Just in time to catch the end of the Dutch Self-Portraits – Selfies of the Golden Age exhibit. The seventeenth century self-portrait was considered an important marketing tool for a portrait artist presenting ‘the face’ and his particular painting skills. Of the 27 portraits, my highlight is the self-portrait of Judith Leyster who portrayed herself as elegant and confident amongst her male rivals.

A future must see exhibit, Sept 2016 – January 2017, of the British Royal Collection will include Vermeer’s The Music Lesson, recently copied using a camera obscura in the documentary Tim’s Vermeer.

MY FAVOURITE THINGS
Admittedly, Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring has a certain glow to it but like the Louvre’s Mona Lisa is more impressive in reputation. The realization that the painting is a tronie rather than a portrait makes it oddly out of place amongst the masterpieces. I was more charmed by the understated trompe-l’œil perfection and utterly modern appeal of The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, which apparently has a part in the Pulitzer “It” novel The Goldfinch.

Fabritius-vink

The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius (1654)

MOVIE TIME
As a bonafide art geek I watched Peter Webber’s Girl with a Pearl Earring in preparation for meeting her in real life. If you can get past Scarlett Johansson’s mega pout and Colin Firth in all of his rock star glory, it is interesting historical fiction. The alternate theory that “the girl” in the study was Vermeer’s preteen daughter seems more likely to me.

HOLY JUXTAPOSITION
I don’t normally get excited by painted ceilings… they tend to be a pain in the neck; but this ceiling fresco by Dutch artist Ger Lataster, Icarus Atlanticus: Allegory of the Working Man, 1987 is amazingly refreshing in this space. What she said!

mauritshuis ceiling

Lovely abstract Ger Lataster ceiling.

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