Rijksmuseum, magnificent as it is

Last Tuesday, I found myself invited by the Rijksmuseum, to have some wine and stroll in the quiet of the evening, along its deserted corridors among its great paintings. The building has been restored magnificently. Paintings with romantic ruins in the background always look better when the walls and surroundings are perfect.

When I visited two months earlier to see the results of 10 years of remodelling at the cost of say $500 million, the first impression was how crowded it was. My companion at that moment got rather irritated by people using flashlights, while everyone should know that flashlights destroy the quality of colours, flash by flash.

This Tuesday, however, we were only a few hundreds, the “donators to the Museum”, and we had the corridors to ourselves. We didn’t need to flash since we had been donating ourselves and had been seeing the stuff for ages and will see them for ages to come.

This evening I didn’t bring a companion, but a 80-year old lady joined my table and provided good company. She confessed that she had donated her collection of some 700 modern drawings over some 60 years. The big regret of her life was that she once actually didn’t buy a Chagall, a regret that many of us can only be envious of. The widow of one of her artists happened to be present, recognized her and came up to thank her that the Rijksmuseum now had a decent overview of his work. She was working hard with the Museum on an exhibition.

After the departure of the grateful and enterprising widow, my new octogenarian companion expressed that she wanted to see the new Rijksprentenkabinet to check how her drawings were being handled. Negotiating with a map and some elevators we found it. Apparenly the kabinet has been moved from the Frans van Mierisstraat to the basement of the Rijksmuseum, with the library as its center.

Once my companion was satisfied that the $500 million remodelling also included proper care for her donation, we were free to roam the building. Naturally we paid tribute to Rembrandt and Vermeer and their illustrous confreres. At my plea, she came along to see a painting by Jacques van Looy (1855-1930), that had struck me two months earlier – ‘The wealth of Summer’ (1900). The picture below is taken from this website. She agreed that it is quite beautiful. The advantage of old ladies is that she also could identify the flowers that are depicted, and one of the people of the Rijksmuseum promised to check it out.

Jacques van Looy, "Zomerweelde", ca 1900

Jacques van Looy, “Zomerweelde”, ca 1900

Notwithstanding all this beauty and magnificence, boycott Rijksmuseum too, till the censorship of science in Holland is resolved. Forgive me for not being entirely consistent in this myself.

PM. The actual donator is my father, who gave a painting and some drawings by his grandfather to the Rijksmuseum. Because of his age he has transferred the contacts to me. See these works by my greatgrandfather (1951-1904) and see this book by his daughter Tine about the life of an artist family around 1895.

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