Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age in Sydney

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Although entry to the collections at the Gallery of NSW is free, as is often the case there’s a charge for the major temporary exhibitions. While we were queuing at the desk at the  to buy tickets for  Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age – Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum we got chatting with a couple of locals. Recognising that we were English they remarked that they were surprised that we were paying to see works when we could nip over the channel to Amsterdam to visit the Rijksmuseum itself. That’s true for although it isn’t just around the corner (!) we have been to Amsterdam a few times lately and have visited the museum we explained that we still felt it was worth it. The Rijksmuseum is huge and there is so much to see that it’s hard to take everything in. so here was a chance to see a good curated collection that we could take the time to look at. This turned out to be the case.

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There were two “star paintings” – one by Rembrandt and the other by Vermeer – that were included in the exhibition, but many of the other 76 works were less well known.  Of course, Australians being so far from Europe and with only limited numbers of works by major European artists in the country, don’t get much opportunity to experience so many paintings from the Dutch Golden Age all together in Sydney.

The exhibition included examples of all the different types of paintings from the Golden age including portraits, landscapes, winter scenes, genre paintings and still lives. There was a free audio guide included in the entrance fee narrated by Miriam Margolyes.

Surprisingly for an exhibition of this nature, photographs were allowed and I took a few shots. This almost certainly wouldn’t have been allowed at galleries in the UK. Here’s a few shots I took

A portrait by Frans Hals – we’d missed out on visiting the gallery devoted to his work in his home town of Haarlem during our trip to the Netherlands in October.

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“Portrait of Feyntje van Steenkiste” (1635) by Frans Hals

A couple of winter scenes

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“View of the church of Slotten in the winter” (c 1660) by Jan Abrahamsz Beerstrate

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“River view in the winter” (1655-60) by Aert Van der Neer

Included in a room full of naval paintings, a model ship (there’s plenty of these in the Rijksmuseum)

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A flower painting

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“Still life with flowers in a glass vase” (c1665-70) by Jan Davidsz de Heem

A portrait by Gerard Dou

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“Portrait of an old woman reading” (c1631-32) by Gerard Dou

Then there was a room full of Rembrandt paintings and a selection of 16 etchings.

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and then this beautiful little painting by Vermeer.

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Although busy, the exhibition wasn’t over crowed and it was possible to get close to the paintings and spend some time looking at them. Later on a few tour groups turned up and, as is usually the case, they all grouped around the key paintings while their guide wittered on, preventing others from getting a view. But they soon moved on.

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