Monday, June 23, 2008

Rembrandt House, and Other Things

These are the flowers I bought at the Bloemenmarkt on Saturday.

On Sunday Louise and I set out on more grand adventures in Amsterdam.  The goal was to visit Rembrandt's House (the Rembrandthuis).

The Rembrandt House is part of the same consortium of historic canal house museums, which is fabulous, because it means the we can use our ICOM cards to get in for free!  Woo!  ICOM is the International Council of Museums.

The Rembrandt House is one of the former homes of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 -1669), one of the greatest painters and printmakers of the Dutch Golden Age.  He lived in it for almost twenty years, and had to leave after it turned out that he could not repay the 13,000 or whatever guilder bank loan he had used to purchase the house.

The Rembrandt House is home to several works by Rembrandt, as well as "the School of Rembrandt," and his teachers/friends/admirers.  The "School of Rembrandt" refers to the fact that he had a large studio of painters and apprentices working for him, all churning out pieces in his name, not necessarily by his hand.  This was the same sort of situation that many other painters had, like Peter Paul Reubens (1577 - 1640).  This can cause some difficulties in the Art Historical world, and questionable paintings more back and forth between the artist and the artist's school with some frequency.

One really fun thing about the Rembrandt House is that they demonstrate making an etching in the same room Rembrandt used as his printmaking studio.  Here I've snuck an image of some demonstration plates, inks, and prints.  It took me right back to those miserable days working in the studio, pulling print after print.  Like all those times I cut my fingers on rough spots on the plates, and then got ink in the cuts, and then was afraid I had given myself inadvertent (and very ugly) fingertip tattoos.

After the Rembrandt House we went to the ship museum, which had a large replica of a sailing ship used by the Dutch East India Company.  Sorry no photos of the ship; it was so windy it almost blew the shoes right off my feet.  We clambered all over, and sat down in the bottom of the ship, watching a Dutch documentary (subtitled in English) about the Dutch East India Company.  It was very educational, and we stayed down there for maybe half an hour, until the creaking of the ship started to freak us out.

Some memorable dialogue from the documentary:
"And the Dutch had such a great system set up, it was strange how nobody else tried to copy it."

"They forced each family to grow three nutmeg trees, and to give the harvest to the company.  They then cut down all the other spice trees.  It worked really well."

"Some villages rebelled: in these cases all of the people were killed, and Dutch people and slaves were brought in to harvest the spices."

"The Japanese traded exclusively with the Chinese and the Dutch until the 19th century, when open trade was forced by the American navy, who threatened to blow up Japanese cities if they refused to trade with them."

Some things never change.

After that, we headed to the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam.  This is the most awesome library ever.  A full report will have to follow in the future, as its awesomeness demands an individual posting.  Suffice it to say that you can come in, watch a movie, listen to music, read a book, and then go up to the top floor and have a cup of tea and a piece of apple tart.  Sweet.

This is a view from the balcony of the library cafe.

I am all tired out today - I was "conservering" all day long, and a part of the expected work by Major Artists arrived today!  Yes!


Ynn said...

Love the photograps on this page. The flowers are besutiful, but the apple tart ! Delicious! Hopefully all the walking we'll be doing when we get there will help burn off the calories. What a shame that work has to interfere with all your sightseeing. Getting anxious to be there.

mamamia4859 said...

That was a good explanation of the Dutch East India Company. I only knew a little about it. The flowers are gorgeous! I am enjoying the blog.

mark711777 said...

"almost blew the shoes right off my feet"

Did you really type that? Implying that you thought about it before putting it out there for everyone to read? I love it. But not as much as I love that fantastic apple tart...