Last night, a dear friend and I decided to celebrate my coming student-status in style: by having champagne and cocktails in the bar of the Kurhaus, a five-star hotel on the beach of Scheveningen. Oh, I’ll miss the beach so much….
Today, another first for me: I went to the Mauritshuis, a museum of Dutch 16th and 17th century art, about 20 minutes from where I live. The building is a fabulous classicist building which I loved and which stands right nex
t to the Dutch equivalent of 10 Downing Street, called Het Torentje, where the Dutch Prime Minister’s offices are (on the left of the picture above, just next to the main building). The most famous artist’s whose works are in the Mauritshuis are Rembrandt (who I admire, but not love) and Vermeer, and the top work is undoubtedly ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’. I was hesitant at first about going to see it, since there’s been such a hoo-haa with the book and film and all. But I loved it. This picture on the right doesn’t do it justice at all, in real life it’s much prettier.
One of the things I like about 16th and 17th century painters is that they were businessmen. We always think of artists as suffering, starving for their art, which is a thoroughly modern invention. If you look at Rubens for instance: not only was he a gifted artist, he also ran a large multinational business churning out paintings of high quality to satisfy customers AND was a diplomat. Talking about Rubens: tickets have gone on sale for the big Rubens exhibition later this autumn at the National Gallery in London. I’m definitely going!