Last Hurrah in Amsterdam

Today dawned cool and cloudy, the kind of weather that makes it hard to tell what time of day it is. But we forged on to Centraal Station, where we scoped out tomorrow’s train and then found our tram for the Hermitage Amsterdam.

This Hermitage is related to THE Hermitage, of Russian fame, which for many years has been lending exhibits from Russia to this location and others. However, the Board here decided after the Ukraine invasion that they could no longer support this partnership:

Russia’s attack on Ukraine made this aloofness no longer tenable. The Board and Supervisory Board therefore decided on Thursday, March 3, 2022 to sever ties with the State Hermitage Museum. The museum on the Amstel is now reflecting on its long-term future. 

Well, good for them, I say!

The current exhibit is called Rembrandt and his Contemporaries and focuses on “history paintings,” which are often religious in nature. The show includes only two actual Rembrandts, though they are both stellar, one a gorgeous painting of Minerva (likely modelled on his Rembrandt’s wife Saskia),

and the other a jewel of a small portrait done in grisaille. The others are paintings by teachers, students and friends including Jan Steen (who adds a necessary robust humor to the proceedings)

and Carel Fabritius, he of the Goldfinch (and the one who died far too early when an arms store in Delft blew up).

The show was interesting enough, and we had to marvel at the founders of the Leiden collection, who have more money than you can imagine and over twenty years have collected lots and lots of paintings from the Golden Age of Dutch art. Very kind of them to share it all with us!

Time for lunch, and a kind woman in the elegant museum cafe that seemed to feature only coffee and cake recommended that we try a “brown cafe” just around the corner. These are traditional cafes that are called brown I think because of all the pipe smoke over the centuries. With pea soup (me) and cheese toast (Alison),

we enjoyed a warming lunch while perched on the upstairs level of the small bustling cafe. I particularly noticed this family group, with the parents featuring zipper motifs on their clothing!

We contemplated visiting the Dutch Resistance Museum, but a combination of museum legs and our need to pack up for tomorrow’s train led us to regretfully turn back home. Next time!

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