Sunday, 21 May 2017

NETHERLANDS DAY ONE : THE HAGUE


Day One in the Netherlands started with a very early (too early) train from Paris Gare du Nord to Den Haag Centraal where I met my beautiful friend Silje. She is currently studying History of Art at the University of Leiden for her Erasmus Year Abroad, so visiting her was the perfect opportunity to have a short break from Paris life, explore a new city (ended up being cities), seeing lots and lots and art and having a much needed catch up. 
After finding each other in the busy trainstation, we went back to her cute little dutch flat to drop off my bags and plan the rest of the day in The Hague. 
Our first stop of the day was to the Mauritshuis. This was potentially what I was most looking forward to. Last year, one of my modules was on Vermeer, who is now one of my favourites artists, so having the chance to see his paintings, in the Netherlands, was a dream come true. The museum is known for its stunning collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings, most famously The Girl with the Pearl Earring. It is such a beautiful painting surrounded by so much mystery, it is hard not to be mesmerised by it. 

Top left : The Goldfinch, Carel Fabritius. 
Top right, bottom left and right : The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer. 
The View of Delft. Johannes Vermeer 
I was so surprised but so excited when I turned round after admiring The Girl with the Pearl Earring to see this painting on the facing wall. Along with Little Street, this is probably my favourite Vermeer paintings. The subject is so different to the rest of his œuvre, but yet it is so quintessentially Vermeer; the colours, the light, the style of painting, this list is endless. It was even more beautiful in person than I could've ever imagined, and the exquisite details within the painting cannot be expressed in words or captured in my pictures. It's just incredible.
Detail of the Milkmaid in the View of Delft.
How many canal pics do you think will be featured in my Netherlands posts ? 
Hint : a lot. 
After the Mauritshius, Silje gave me a tour of the city. We wandered the streets of The Hague discussing the art we'd just seen, browsing the boutiques down the side streets, and talking about our year abroad adventures. Then, when hunger hit, we found the Brasserie Huisman. The decor of the restaurant was amazing, the walls were full of famous black and white photos of actresses and actors, models and scenes from classic films. I instantly got good vibes, being a avid film fan, and these good vibes only increased as our food arrived. I had a chorizo and cheese (at this moment I can't remember what cheese) toastie with a small side salad which was exactly what I needed. Would very much recommend a visit if you are ever in The Hague. 

Silje.
The Hague. February 2017. 
The next stop on Niamh and Silje's art tour of the Netherlands was the Escher Museum. 
Escher was an incredibly talented graphic artist of the 20th Century specialising in engravings, woodcuts, lithographs and some drawings. 
In all honesty, I wasn't sure how I would feel about going to this museum. This style of art is not my favourite and I had never seen / even heard of Escher before. However, that all changed. His work was a lot more modern than I was excepting, I had only really been exposed to the engravings of Dürer before which was what I was basing my opinions on. Escher is completely different. The detail and complexity of his work was astounding and the scenes he created were beautiful. 
The museum itself was also expertly curated and the works were cleverly organised. Walking round the museum you felt as if you were walking through his life; the different stages of his life demonstrated by the subjects of his works, the changes of his style and materials echoed the changing of the world around him. His work has had such an impact on modern culture that I was completely oblivious too before, but now am so glad to have experienced this style of art and would highly recommend a visit to this museum.  

The ground floor of the museum was occupied by his lithographs and woodcuts, mainly what he created during his stay in Italy, with a room at the back showing his photographs. 
Then upstairs, it was much more visual and interactive. Dark rooms with screens showing trippy, changing images that made you feel a bit like you were loosing your mind, but in a good way as well as works and sculptures by artists similar to Escher and some interactive optical illusions. 
Again, not what I was expecting, but a lot of fun. 
The final stop for the day was to the Gemeentemuseum, known for its collection of Mondrian and De Stilj. The architecture was incredibly 60s and reminded me almost of a swimming pool. When we arrived we only had about 40 minutes before closing time so tried to see as much as possible in that short amount of time (trust me, for art historians that is a very short amount of time to spend in a museum). We were mainly there to see the current Mondrian and De Stilj exhibition as one of our professors from University of York was involved in the curating of it, however they also had a large collection of other modern and contemporary art which we basically ran through as they were trying to kick us out. 
Freud.
Day one done.
 Three museums visited.
 A lot of walking round The Hague.
By 7pm I was shattered after waking up at 4am to get my train.
We got the tram back to Silje's flat and had a chill night catching up on our year abroad adventures before I eventually crashed from exhaustion. 

Thank you for your visit to my blog and hope you come back for more adventures! Keep an eye out for more of my Exploring the Netherlands post's by following me on Instagram and Bloglovin for all the updates. 
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Niamh. x
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