Saturday, 28 March 2015

Going Dutch

The other weekend on a whim we went to Holland (that is the beauty of poor old Brussels - you can go elsewhere so easily). We took the motorway down there and visited the Mauritshuis. On the way back, in a deluded, memories-of-south-coast-of-New-South-Wales-beaches kind of way, we thought we'd drive along the sea. Ha. While we did actually find a most fantastic, broad, fine-sanded stretch, we mostly got views of industrial complexes and rows of uniform, constrained little houses. The beach we found was not quite the wild place we are used to either - there was a carpark at least as big as the beach itself behind it and chip sellers' stalls positioned every ten paces or so.

But I shouldn't criticise. After all, I managed to let my identity card slip from my pocket in the sand dunes and the good old Dutch police found it and posted it back to me the following week. That is service.

And besides, I didn't plan to rabbit on about beaches in this post. I planned to rabbit on about the Mauritshuis, which is marvellous, (barring a strange lapse when someone there decided to let someone else have a go at painting some ceiling decoration in about 1984; just don't look up, if you go).

I took a lot of pictures and I will put most of them on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. In this post, I'm just going to include a picture by David Teniers that is in the collection.

I first noticed Teniers's pictures in Munich a few years back. I really like them. Often, they show people wasting time in pubs. Always, they give you a feeling of looking back through time, glimpsing real people leading real lives a few hundred years ago. He piles detail upon detail, until you can almost feel the temperature and smell the food cooking. In fact, in the pub scenes, you almost feel the beginnings of the hang over some of the figures are going to be suffering tomorrow - or are already, hence their visit to the pub, for a hair of the dog. He has a kind of wry affection for the humans he portrays. There is a sense that life is fleeting, but there is no sense that he judges people for frittering it away.

This is called Kitchen Interior. It was painted in 1644.
It has so many small still lives within it - these pieces of blue and white china, for example:

This beautiful fish in a dish:
These lemons and glass objects:
These apples too:


Startlingly, starlings seem to have been on the menu, potentially:
And kingfishers:
It appears that the royal family were not alone in the right to eat swan in the 17th centuryin the Low Lands - or at least it was permissible to have one as a decoration on your table, even if you weren't the Queen:
Oh shock, oh horror, even a dog was allowed in the kitchen:
This lady does not appear to be a servant judging by her clothing, so it is nice of her to indulge in a little light peeling:


Meanwhile, behind her, the hot sweaty work is carried on by unidentified servants:



Amazingly, if you look very, very closely, you find Teniers even added a picture within the picture - this little drawing, which hangs above the fireplace:
For more snaps from the Mauritshuis, look at my Instagram account - zedmkc , or my tumblr account - also zedmkc (it seems to work best on an I-Pad - you can expand the pictures to really see the details).





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