European Art

Our trip to Amsterdam and London to see the best of European art did not disappoint!

Van Gogh Museum, AmsterdamWe visited the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery of Art in London. I had a little time to travel sketch which was fun. But the best part was seeing the best of 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th century artworks in realist tradition.

Links and images route to my photos on Flickr. Or see the full album.

Night Watch by Rembrandt, Rikjsmuseum, AmsterdamThe Rijksmuseum focuses on Rembrandt’s work, given he lived there. The most significant, and largest painting is ‘Night Watch‘. As big as my living room wall, it is simply magnificent. Here’s the museum card that explains the painting and figures in it: Side 1, Side 2.

The realization that reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings in books do not do them justice was made clear to me on seeing the originals. The vibrancy, substance, and texture was eye-opening and incredible.

Queen Elizabeth I, National Portrait GalleryIn London’s Portrait Gallery, the intricacy, delicacy and detail in the portrait artwork was inspiring. Large paintings featuring laces, silks, pearls, feathers, brocades, velvets and more appeared to have been painted with brushes made of two hairs. I don’t know how they were done.

The National Gallery gave us more breathless viewing of Flemish, Dutch and Italian paintings including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Madonna of the Rocks. Da Vinci painted two ‘Madonna of the Rocks’. The other one was featured in the film ‘The DaVinci Code’ and is in a gallery in Italy.  We also saw paintings by Rubens, Vermeer, Titian, Raphael, Veronese, and my favorite French painter, Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun’s ‘ Self Portrait in a Straw Hat‘ (below), which according to the museum placard was inspired by Ruben’s Portrait of Susanna Lunden, also in the same gallery. I find the historical references very revealing.

Self Portrait in a Straw Hat by Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun in the National Gallery, London

Here’s my travel sketch featuring Magere Brug, a historic bridge in Amsterdam. Below is a photograph I took of the bridge on our canal cruise.

Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge), watercolor on paper, 7 x 10

Travel sketch of Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) in Amsterdam

Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) in Amsterdam

We also did sightseeing in Amsterdam including a Canal Cruise and walking through the town center and Red Light District. We saw many cheese, coffee and Blue Delftware shops. In London we walked through Trafalgar Square and St. James’s Park, saw Buckingham Palace, walked to Westminster Abbey and saw 10 Downing Street, the Parliament Building, Westminster Cathedral and Big Ben on the way. 

I want to go back soon!