One thing I have realized as I have aged is that I have a creative soul. My past should have included more art history and art classes in high school and even at the college I attended as a young nursing student, which boasts one of the best fine art schools in the country!
Shortly before it was decided that I would travel to The Netherlands last September, I began reading The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevalier. This story, fictional of course, is based on a famous painting by the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. I devoured the book. So you can imagine my excitement when I found that Vermeer’s masterpiece is housed in the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, the exact city where we would be staying for five nights.
Den Haag, The Nederlands, or The Hague in Holland, which more Americans might call it, could be an art lover’s destination! The Hague is known as the International City of Peace and Justice. There are a multitude of museums curated with every taste in mind. Picasso and Rembrandt pieces are also found at the Maruitshuis Museum. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist famous for his tessellation’s has his own museum where many recognizable pieces can be found. While Van Gogh, and even a Frank Lloyd Wright piece, were noted at the Gemeente Museum, their current focus was on Mondrian & De Stijl. Never having seen so many masterpieces at once, I was mesmerized. But, nothing captured my anticipation than the possibility of seeing Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (TedEd video on this artwork) at the Mauritshuis. It didn’t disappoint. Vermeer’s technique using of light to highlight the mysterious girl in the painting is captivating. And then, there is the nearly 400 year mystery of who the girl in the painting represented. Was she a real person?
My fascination with Vermeer didn’t end after seeing the painting. On we went, the following day, to the City of Delft, where Vermeer lived and worked. He is one of the city’s most prominent historical figures. Easily reached by a 30 minute inter-city bus ride, Delft is a quaint mix of centuries old buildings, new shops, canals, and bistros. Vermeer lies buried in Oude Kerk or the Old Church in the city of Delft. It was built in 1246. The stained glass was replaced around WWII but is still beautiful as the windows surround a wooden ceiling. On the floor, you will see Vermeer’s final resting place marked with an embossed stone, amongst other grave markers.Unfortunately, you can walk on the grave markers, as they are mostly flat, being part of the floor itself. Some of them are very worn. I did not feel comfortable taking a photo of his grave, but think the beauty of the ceiling is captured in the photo below.
Despite our trip being six months ago, I remain fascinated with Vermeer and actually, all things Dutch. There is much to see in The Netherlands and I hope to be able to go back one day. In the meantime, I provided myself with my own art history lesson to feed my creative soul.