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  • Writer's pictureNigel

Civilization (Part 2) 文明ー第2章


Well, here she is: The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Of course she doesn't get quite so many people looking at her as the girl in the gallery down the road, but at least she has a sense of humour. Very important for any civilization.....真珠の耳飾りの少女 that`s a cool translation for The Girl with the Pearl Earring. "mimikaza" 耳 means ear, and 飾 means adorn / embellish. Much nicer than the loanword イヤリング. "Iyaringu".

By that "gallery down the road" I mean of course the Mauritshuis art gallery of Den Haag. I was stunned by it. Not only by the pictures themselves (a Creme de la Creme collection of Dutch art), but by the sumptious yet tasteful palace where they hang. マウリッツハイス美術館.

A few spikes, yes, but we are at the centre of the Dutch Parliament here - the Binnenhof. The Mauritshuis is on the left......オランダ議会

An elegant gallery indeed, shining out across the water.......優雅 ゆうが

I walked through its stately rooms with awe. It was quiet - many people were probably nursing hangovers from yesterday's Kings Day revelries.

👉 二日酔い.....futsukayo/hangover...lovely word that...I was amused to see it crop up in my language textbook quite early on. I wonder if it is an important word in Japanese. You know, all those Sake drinking rounds after work.........😵.

Back to the gallery. There was a pleasant surprise around nearly every corner. Here was that superb "View of Delft", which Vermeer (Delft was where he was born) finished in 1661. It's seriously famous, and there is no substitute, digital or otherwise, for standing in front of the real thing. The patches of sunlight and shadow are beautiful. You could go to Den Haag just to see this.

On the opposite wall, that other earring girl is looking at you. Wow.

I took a breather after this and gazed out of the window at the water outside....

Then Fabritius's little Goldfinch (1654) hits you in the eye. The first time I became aware of this painting was when I read Donna Tartt's novel of the same name.....

Here is the inspiration for that novel..

It's a strange little painting, but incredibly life-like. You expect the poor thing to fly away at any moment. But it is chained to its perch. A common practice in the 17thc apparently. Not far away is Mr. Rembrandt - he's also looking at you! He seems to say "well, here I am mate, now go and look at one of my other paintings". It's thought to be one of his last self-portraits (1669).

Adding to the atmosphere of the gallery are these rather weird lights.....(does anyone know if you can get one from IKEA? I'd like a couple for my violin greet customers at the entrance, you know).......

But they fit in quite nicely here......

Passing through the hallway downstairs these (real) flowers caught my eye. Still life with real scent...wonderful.

What a feast for the senses. Of course outside we get a taste of what is to come in post 3 of this series...I mean those tulips.......


Now just to bring you down to earth here is Miffy. He/she pops up in this porcelain shop.....

I actually thought he might be a Japanese invention, imported into Holland. But no, this little bunny was created back in the 50s by the Dutch artist Dick Bruna........see here............ So one moment it's Vermeer, the next Bruna.....😅. I spotted some other characters on the streets later in the day.......poor guy could hardly breathe!!

I hope she wasn't going by bike ......of which there is NO SHORTAGE in Den Haag.......

Before I finish today I will add a couple more pictures. This leafy street is called the Lange Voorhout, and it seems to capture the spirit of the city. Calm, elegant, composed, clean, maybe a little quiet for some. But bustling on market day I'm told. I noticed the British Embassy here, but no, I did not take a photo of it 😑.

And at the end of this boulevard is the Hotel des Indes. A rather grand place whose name must be a nod back to the vast Dutch trading interests in India and South East Asia - read here"Dutch East India Company", that early example of a multinational corporation which had a finger in many a pie.

and here is quiet corner somewhere in the maze of Dutch.....those big windows....

So on that note I'll finish for today.Tomorrow I get out into the countryside (where there is also no shortage of bikes).




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Chris Turner
Chris Turner
04 mai 2022

Looks like you got some lovely weather to showcase the beauty! Good for you! Thanks!

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