Friday, August 21, 2009

Rembrandt, A Visual

Again today John and I braved the bus into Amsterdam, headed for the Rijksmuseum, home of many famous masterpieces, but especially some of Vermeer and Rembrandt. Today, unlike yesterday, we actually made it to the museum. We're early birds, so we arrived when no one was in line, as it had just opened. When we left the line snaked around the corner about five deep. I would estimate that in the two and a half hours we were inside, about two hundred people queued up for entrance. Inside, it was just getting crowded.

When I heard the words, "Check your camera in at the cloak room. No photos are allowed," I was very disappointed. After all, this would be my first viewing of the artwork of Rembrandt. I wanted to memorialize the occasion. When, two hours later, I had finally worked my way through some of the most amazing artwork I had seen in my life and stood face to face with the first Rembrandt I'd ever seen, there was no desire to grab a camera. I could not have done the canvas justice with a photograph.

How many photos have I seen of his work, anyway? Hundreds? Thousands? Probably. Not a single one has come close to capturing the life of the actual canvas. I was happy to be able to have this day at the museum. It seemed like a good thing to do, since I was in the area. If you're following me, you understand that I was not nearly as excited as I was when I left the museum.

Does anybody paint like that anymore? Use color and shadow to create a luminescence that glows as if the spirit of the subject breathed still? Skin daubed with a brush nearly four hundred years ago that still glows with health left me awe struck for the magnificence of talent showcased in the building. The silence was profound, but occasionally a whisper would be heard, someone saying, "Oh!" or "Ya!" in Dutch. Many languages came together, many people from all over the world congregating in one building, silently applauding greatness.

I didn't need my camera. A photo would do you no good. There's a great article with photos you can admire that are better than any I could have done. Besides, it's hard to take photos when your mouth is hanging open. I need to go again. He deserves it. (Why do I always discover these great artists and musicians after they're dead?)

Before looking for the bus home, which was an adventure in itself, Ben called and recommended a nice place for lunch. We sat down and ordered, and then in walked Benjamin with one of his friends from work. They ate with us, and we talked throughout the meal. His co-worker friend was Dutch and very charming. I enjoyed talking with him. His English was excellent, and he was very easy to understand. Then Ben paid for all the lunches. Sweet. What a great son. What a fine day. And it only took us about two hours to find the right street to get on a homeward bound bus.


Ri said...

I'm sure you're right that no photo can do the artwork justice. That's exactly why we go to museums! Glad you had the opportunity to see those masterpieces.

Heather said...

It sounds like you are having a wonderful trip. I am hoping that we get over there in the next couple of years. Enjoy the rest of your stay.