Thursday, January 26, 2012

Week Thirty Eight: Amsterdam: Part Two!

Amsterdam: Day Two

So it looks like you'll be getting a third blog on Amsterdam instead of it all finished up here. It will be up Saturday.

First Stop! The Rijks Museum. No I don't know how to say that. Righk? Reek? Well, it's the R museum. This museum is about Holland. Or Holland's art history at least. It was absolutely beautiful. It was likt a history of the evolution of art. The museum was largely closed due to construction, but looked like, when it all reopened, it’d be about the size of the Denver Art Museum.

I enjoyed it. The first room had a ship's cannon in it. I learned about Holland just walking through the museum! There was a painting of a whale oil factory that caught my attention. also, the only painting of Protestants pulling down the icons during the Reformation where there. It was actually painted sixty years later, but still. There was also a painting called Fishing for souls. Protestants too on the left bank, Catholics on the right bank, and both sides had boats in the water to pull out 'lost souls.' Now, it'd be a lake in an odd shape!

There was a giant doll house there,a bout seven foot tall I suppose, that was custom made and gorgeous. The woman it was commissioned for paid for it by giving the artist a modest canal side house. It came with dolls, furniture, dishes, and cutlery all made to proportion. The only doll still in existence lay in a cradle int he nursery, which I could not see in.

there was a room of delft pottery which included everything from pots, to dishes to, get this, a violin.

No joke, there was a delft violin with horse hair strings. I assume a matching bow may have been made, but I'm pretty certain it couldn't be played. Isn't the vibration of the wood important in instruments?

So anyway, we also say hybrid European-Asian furniture in one room, brought in courtesy of the V.O.C. which was a dutch trading company that existed at the same time as the East India Trading Company.

The next room over held a giant sword, a cane, and large chest in the same glass display. There was a 70 year old mane in history who used the ivory handled can to walk up the steps to his own execution. He was dealt with by the sword in the glass, a broad executioner's sword with a skinny handle.

Now I know for a fact that swords are a messy way to go. Generally, I recall being informed that a single stroke doesn't do the job, because of the spinal cord getting in the way.

But this one. This one I can believe in. It was a hand and a half sword with a handle about the width of a skinny finger, and a thickness of an old wooden ruler. The blade, by contrast, was the width of a large mane's hand, or about the width of my brother in law's hand. While no longer sharp, the edge had clearly once held a good bite to it. There was no decoration on the blade or the handle. For some reason this austerity made it all the more deadly.

As for the contents of the chest, nowhere did it say, or identify. But considering it shard a glass box, I suspect it was the old man's chest. Or perhaps his coffin.

There were two delicate carved hollow porcelain decorative jars, only slightly thick than rice paper, and in some places held together with rice paper and glue. And of course, there were portraits galore!

I can't forget the large room dedicated to Rembrandt and his contemporaries. Lots of formal portraits and still life paints. Mostly portraits. My favorite was of a young man playing a lyre, with a joyful look on his face and about him. This was painted by a famous female artist of the time. Second would be the young girl of around eight dressed in a green velvet woman's dress and very formally.

Then we walked on and saw more including a single Andy Warhol of Queen Beatrice shortly after the coronation of her husband.

The next museum was Van Gogh. Van Gogh was one of my mother's favorite artist. He and I however are 'eh.' In fact, I find most of his art very 'eh.' His beginning work is very dark, lots of browns and somber and serious. Then he delved into more colorful Japanese style art, and from there discovered the wonderful world of color. A lot of color. And dashes. Dashed paint was Van Gogh's pointillism.

There were a few Claude Monet's in there, which were all okay. My favorite painting was of a woman in a blue dress with a pearl necklace, dark hair, and large hooded eyes. I cannot remember the artist name.

Okay, I admit. I am not a fan of this period of art at all. I prefer my Rembrandt's to you Van Gogh's. Something about the period drives me wacky, and I've just never seen why Van Gogh was so famous, minus the ear debacle which was only hinted at, never mentioned.

Following a delicious tuna melt lunch, we went to the Anne Frank House.

This is the house the Anne Frank and seven others hid away in, after having moved from Frankfurt Germany to Amsterdam to escape the Germans. We walked in the hiding places, the secret annex behind the moving bookcase. There was little in the House, but mementos on the wall. The pictures Anne pasted on to her wall were still there, behind glass. The original diary, along with other notebooks, were there as well. It was a quiet, somber place. I liked it, but it made me sad.

From there we went on a boat ride around the canals and through the harbor. Their harbor is, by the way, fresh water from the Amster River. The sea is cut off from the city 'by two works' according the the tour.

It was a beautiful boat ride. The canal side houses are all beautiful, even the so called 'plain' ones. And get this: Because stair cases where thin, winding, and steep to conserve space, each house comes with a hoisting hook to lift goods and furniture, and they're still being used!

We saw several house boats, wide enough my brother in law could lay across the width with a few inches to space (He makes a good measuring unit.) and about, well, the were long enough to have the same floor space as a decent apartment in the suburbs. Curtains seemed rare, no that anyone seemed to mind.

Indeed, one nicely furnished, if ugly, home with very modern furniture and a pink light in the living room held a couple kissing in it. This was no chaste peck either. He had her bent backwards in a passionately deep kiss that would make Gomez and Morticia Addams be awed.

Predictably, the boat gave a cheer.

That man had to have planned it too. The tour boat comes by at least once an hour. He knew they were coming. I bet the woman was really flustered.

Also, there was this random house boat in the same of a 17th century boat that I have no clue how they got it in there. I mean, the bridges were low, and most of the house boats would have scrapped the top of their house on the bottom of the bride. I wonder....

so then we walked around down town some and saw the Old Church. Yes, that really is the name. It was, by that time, too late to enter, but still. The brick work was astounding, a series of different architectural themes as the church was added onto form about the 1300s. A Victorian church was juxtapositioned with a medieval one, and a modern once. I wish we could have gone in!

The again, in Amsterdam, I noticed ti wasn't unusual for a Victorian town house to be next to a modern high rise.

So ends Day 2.

One Final Byte: Always open new file, lest your work poofs.

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