Dutch Light

Piercing the Clouds
I know I’ve posted other photos here of these fantastic skies of both brilliant sunshine and dark clouds. We get it a lot here — more than I remember seeing it up and down the East Coast of the US — and it always takes my breath away. If I see light like this, I can’t help but reach for my camera so that I can go back and enjoy it any time I want. It’s almost thrilling, as you wonder what direction the weather will take. Fierce storms or lazy sunny days?

Recently, while visiting the Mauritshuis museum in Den Haag, I was thrilled by one of the Vermeer paintings they had on display. It wasn’t the Girl With A Pearl Earring that gave me a frisson of pleasure and recognition; it was his View of Delft.

As soon as I saw those dark clouds hovering over the lighter cityscape, I understood exactly what he was depicting. I’ve seen it so often since moving here! Despite having yet to visit Delft, I still recognized this image so perfectly. The photos don’t do justice to the actual painting and the glow it seems to emit in person.

If you’re visiting the Netherlands, Den Haag is worth a visit, as is the Mauritshuis Museum. Even if you’re not overly interested in art, it’s a small enough collection to be easily manageable. I spent a lot of time looking at individual pieces and going back to certain ones, but even I managed to make my way through the whole museum in just a couple of hours. The current exhibit of Jan Steen’s work is highly enjoyable, and they have restoration experts there in the museum working on a painting during some of the hours of opening, so you can see the work in person. And see for yourself the beauty of Vermeer’s View of Delft. You may well recognize that magnificent glow, as well.

ETA: I was just checking my blog’s stats and noticed that someone got here by looking up the term “wild and woolly weather”. I realized that I have a post by that very name, and sure enough, it’s one of the posts where I discuss just this kind of light!

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6 thoughts on “Dutch Light

  1. Have you seen the wonderful movie Dutch Light? (Also known as Hollands Light.) I got the DVD from Netflix in the USA and enjoyed it very much, in fact watched it several times. It was made by Pieter-Rim De Kroon and Martin De Kroon.

  2. It is such a fantastic painting with so much detail! You really need to see it up close or view it at a high resolution image to really appreciate what’s going on. Little things catch your eye, like the small sewer tunnel and two ladies chatting. There’s a lot there. The subtle lighting on the buildings right at the back is just perfect.

    he msut have spent ages outside painting..which maybe due to his mother in law nagging him! have you heard about her?

    And you’re totally right about the skyscape. He gives two thirds of the canvas just for the sky! I’d love to see it in person one day. When I went to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg I remember trying to figure out the exact spot where the painter stood! It’s a nice feeling to think he was right where I’m standing!

    ooh..found a large version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vermeer-view-of-delft.jpg

  3. What do you mean, not every corner in the world has the same weather pattern and light? 😉

    Well, you might like to know, the weather will remain the same for the coming week. AKA typical Dutch summer weather. 😀

  4. I did hear that the light is different these days than before (100+ years ago). Ever since we filled up de Zuiderzee with Flevoland. Apparently the Zuiderzee would cast a big reflection of the incoming light on the clouds. We will never know for sure. Either way, I miss those clouds (I’m in the US now).

  5. I too just love the clouds and the sunshine and just hte light in general here. The clouds seem so much closer here than they did back home..and they are HUGE too!

  6. True – the Mauritshuis collection is not that extensive to demand too much time to see it and it is so much worth visiting! The Nederlandse lucht is incredible!!
    Have you been to the “gemeentemuseum” in DH? It is also very interesting – I’ve been twice to see temporary exhibitions but their permanent collection is also impressive.

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