Thursday, August 6, 2015

London museum report 7 -- National Gallery / the old masters

The National Gallery has seven Rembrandts and two Vermeers (and the very next day I got to see a third Vermeer across town) so you can get your quotient of Really Great Art in a few minutes.  That is, unless you plonk yourself down to commune with Rembrandt himself in one of the self-portraits. I do that whenever possible -- heaven is a museum with a bench in front of your favorite painting.  And I particularly love looking into the eyes of the artist himself, which happens so many times with Rembrandt; maybe he was too cheap to hire models.  Here he is as a young stud, quite satisfied with himself, as he had every right to be.

Rembrandt, Self Portrait at the Age of 34, 1640

Here's his girlfriend, looking quite alluring in a bra-less fur outfit and nice jewelry.

Rembrandt, Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels, 1654-6

Rembrandt, An Elderly Man as Saint Paul, 1659

Both the Vermeers feature a virginal, the early harpsichord popular in the late Renaissance.  The instrument came in a case and was placed on a table. Apparently it didn't matter whether you stood or sat, or whether the keys were high or low relative to your body; all that technique would come later.

Vermeer, A Young Woman seated at a Virginal, ~1670-2

Vermeer, A Young Woman standing at a Virginal, ~1670-2


  1. They were called "Virginals," btw, because the keys were so narrow that only young girls (virgins) had hands small enough to play them. Visiting art museums when traveling is always a favorite activity and experience.

  2. Always a pleasure to see Rembrandts. Thanks for this treat!