I had no idea how much I would love The Hague! It's a beautiful and peaceful city, crisscrossed with canals, extremely walkable, full of many excellent restaurants, and with public transportation that makes it easy to get everywhere else in Holland. And on top of all that charm and livability, it has an incredible world-class museum right in the middle of it, the Mauritshius, which has a collection of works by artists like Vermeer, Rubens, Holbein, and Rembrandt! My husband Nowell and I were very happy with our decision to make The Hague our home-base in Holland.
As we walked to the Mauristhuis museum we stopped for a photo at this stunning view of the Dutch Parliament. The 13th-century Binnenhof is the oldest parliament building still in use. The body of water before it is called the Hofvijver which means "court pond". It's stunning to see such beauty in the middle of a city... and look at that classic Dutch sky! The Maurithuis museum was just a 15-minute flat and picturesque stroll from our hotel, so we arrived fresh and ready for an exciting dose of ART! This is a stunning collection with several very famous gems, including Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring and View of Delft, as well as Fabritius' Goldfinch.
I got some great detail shots showing the cracks and restoration of Girl with the Pearl, the surprising pointillism and tiny, precise shapes of View of Delft, and the luscious brushwork of the Goldfinch.
Girl with the Pearl and Goldfinch were actually exhibited a few years ago in San Francisco where I live, so very strangely this was my SECOND time seeing both these iconic works. I did prefer seeing them in their home in the Mauristhuis, though. In the San Francisco exhibit Goldfinch was hung in a narrow hallway, and The Pearl was hung in a completely black room with an intense spotlight, which was intended to increase the drama of the experience, but instead made the face blindingly light. So I was able to appreciate both works better in this appropriately-lit museum.
How often do you get to admire and compare two Rubens marriage portraits and two Van Dyck marriage portraits all in one room together?
Left Rubens' Peter Van Hack, Claire Fourement and Van Dyck's Peeter Stevens and Anna Wake (between them is an incredible "kunstkamer" or "art room" by Willem van Haecht.
I really fell in love with this Van Dyck portrait. As much as I admire Rubens as a painter, when it comes to portraiture, Van Dyck has the ability to capture a strong feeling of being in the presence of a real person.
The Mauristhuis also has a Rubens oil sketch of the same subject I saw in the Our Lady cathedral in Antwerp just a few days before this, Mary's assumption to heaven:
Left is the ~3-foot tall sketch in the Mauristhuis museum, on the right is the ~15-foot tall painting installed in the Antwerp cathedral.
You can see the stone arch to the right of Mary was omitted in the final, and you can also see the blue color is different: The final painting used more expensive pigments, including lapis lazuli for the blues, which at the time was even more expensive than gold. Here are my detail shots of the sketch:
More details from paintings by Rubens, Pieter van Anraadt, Pieter Claesz, Gabriël Metsu, Jan van Huysum, Franz Hals, Saloman van Ruisdale, Holbein:
And a nice collection of Rembrandts, including this tiny head of a Laughing Man and the famous Anatomy Lesson:
The Hague is a beautiful city and also very livable; Because it is not mobbed with tourists, most the people you see are just going about their regular life, picking up their children from school or meeting friends for a drink after work. It's a major city, but there does not seem to be a lot of noise or traffic, probably because most people travel by bike, so just walking around felt calm and relaxing.
There's also a lovely little museum devoted to MC Escher, which we really enjoyed.
Delft was a very easy daytrip, because we could get there on the local tram line which had a stop right outside the door of our hotel and took us to the heart of Delft in about 30 minutes. The Hague's public transportation was very easy for a visitor, because you can just download the "HTM" app to your phone where you can buy single tickets or day-long tickets, and the QRC ticket just appears.
Delft is a beautiful place just to wander around, and we enjoyed having a slower-paced day, so we didn't do any official tours, but just admired the scenery (and the food!).
Back in the Hague:
We had excellent meals all within a couple blocks of our hotel at Walter Benedict, Bistro Mer and Follia.
We loved the YAYs hotel we stayed in (address: Koninginnegracht 20, 2514 AB Den Haag), which has apartment suites with kitchenettes, including a free laundry room for guests, for less than a single hotel room in Amsterdam. It's in a great little neighborhood with lots of restaurants and a convenient little grocery store, and only a 15 minute walk to the Mauristhuis museum. It was easy to take the tram from just a few steps outside the door of the hotel to the Holland Spoor train station, which is how we visited Amsterdam and the incredible Rijksmuseum, which I'll write about in my next blog post.
This post is part of a series about our recent European tour through Paris, Antwerp, The Hague, Amsterdam, and Vienna. If you have not yet, sign up for my newsletter so you never miss one of my information-packed blog posts. Also, I am currently working on a new painting video to be released by the end of this year. "Glazing and Scumbling a Still Life with Roses" will be a follow-up to my original "Glazing and Scumbling" online course, so I recommend getting that if you have not yet, to get the most out of my next release!