The morning after seeing Keukenhof, we walked to the Rijksmuseum, arriving a half hour before opening time. After purchasing the Amsterdam museum card, we hurried to the Gallery of Honor, which has masterpieces of the 17th century, before large tour groups mobbed the popular paintings.
Above the Rijksmuseum and the two-meter-tall I amsterdam logo at Museumplein.
My favorite piece is Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, for its rich colors and fine details such as the texture of the wall and the shape and tones of the stream of milk from the pitcher. The apron gets its intense blue from lapis lazuli, imported from Afghanistan at the time. Little is known about Vermeer, but he had the means to use an expensive pigment. (Click on any image to see an enlargement.)
We saw two other Vermeers, but they seem drab in comparison.
My wife’s favorite is Still Life with a Gilt Cup by Willem Heda. Great job of showing subtle color and reflections.
Rembrandt’s Night Watch has the most prominent display at the end of the Gallery of Honor. The museum provides detailed explanations for selected works. For the Night Watch, “Rembrandt was the first to depict the figures in a group portrait in action, showing the civic guardsmen taking up their positions in order to march out. His manipulation of light was also unprecedented.” Since our eyes are drawn to light, the artist’s use of light and dark helps us see the subject of the image.
Floral Still Life by Hans Bollongier combines several flowers that do not bloom at the same time. This still life was painted shortly after a bubble of wild tulip speculation burst in the 17th century.
Finally, here’s a Self Portrait by Vincent van Gogh. We visited the nearby Van Gogh Museum, but they don’t allow photos.
We enjoyed the Rijksmuseum, returning for a brief visit another day, thanks to the museum card (Museumkaart), which allows entry to many museums without standing in line.