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"Vermeer's Hat"

I've been enjoying "Vermeer's Hat" by Timothy Brook. It looks at what he calls the Dawn of the Global World using details in Vermeer's paintings as "back doors." For example, the beaver hat worn by the officer in "Officer and Laughing Girl" leads to a discussion of the fur trade in the New World, with interesting stop-offs on the development of firearms, Native Americans, and climate change in North Europe (who knew that global cooling led to the demise of the European beaver!)

It's by no means a scholarly work - far too many uses of "maybe," "possibly," "could well have been" but it's a fascinating look at trade, exploration, and culture exchange in the 17th century. And all the topics link back to the Netherlands in the time of Vermeer.

Check it out. It's worth a look. I promise you'll learn something.

Posted by
2909 posts

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out since we're heading to "Vermeer Central" in April!

Posted by
2487 posts

Another interesting book on Vermeer is Laura Snyder's Eye of the Beholder, focusing on the relationship between Vermeer's painting and - living in Delft at the same time - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek's revolutionary work with the microscope. Also somewhat speculative, but a good read nonetheless.

Posted by
1966 posts

Thanks for the interesting books. I will check them out as I'm headed to Amsterdam mid-April. He is one of my favorite authors.

Another book rec: Amsterdam by Russell Shorto which covers the history of Amsterdam in an interesting, non-academic way. He is a journalist and lived there for a period of time and, as a result, brings his observations and experience into the narrative. I'm learning a lot I think.

Posted by
2909 posts

Ton that one looks great too. With so many of us going to the Amsterdam area in April maybe we should all have a meetup. I know a cozy, wonderful little bar we always go to in central Amsterdam...

Posted by
1966 posts

Mona,
I will be in Paris 4/19 - 4/23, taking the train to Amsterdam on 4/23 and leaving on 4/29. When will you be there? We have tickets to Keukenhof and have not decided which day to go. I think it will be later in the day around 3 pm after the crowds depart.

Posted by
4651 posts

Thanks, Ton, for the recommendation. I just ordered it from the library. Mona, when will you be there? We'll be there (based in Haarlem) from April 12 until the Best of Europe tour starts the 15th. Then we're headed back to the Netherlands after the tour, May 6 for several days.

Posted by
4651 posts

We've been to "Our Lord in the Attic," and loved it. In fact, the place marker in my missal is a holy card from there! haven't seen the Portuguese Synagogue, but we'll add it to the list.

Posted by
2909 posts

Ok I'm willing to meet up twice 😉 as there seems to be a few in the middle of the month and a few towards the end of the month. We are basing ourselves in Zandvoort, near Haarlem, from 11 to 29 April. The historic bar we find so appealing and cozy is the Blauwe Parade inside the Hotel Die Port Van Cleve. It is in the old Heineken brewery building. There are wooden booths and delft tiles on the walls. http://deblauweparade.com is the bar and http://www.dieportvancleve.com/en/ is the restaurant and hotel. There are pictures of the old brewery in the hotel area too, worth a look. I'll make a different post later to see about specific dates.

Posted by
357 posts

Thank you Mona for the restaurant/bar suggestion. We are adding Blauwe Parade to our list of places to stop for a drink and snack. The blue Delft tiles remind me of my grandmas house (her parents, VanderWall's, immigrated in the early 1900’s to Wisconsin). She had a house of blue delft in Port Townsend, WA.
We would enjoy meeting up and are free Friday, April 14th or Sunday, April 16th for a drink at Blauwe Parade if anyone is interested. We are doing a “Tasting and Tour” Wynand Fockink (I love gin) on Saturday at 6 p.m. It should be interesting --we're prepping with lots of hydration and a big lunch.

Posted by
2487 posts

I love gin
The place to go for gin - jenever in Dutch - in the Netherlands is Schiedam, between Delft and Rotterdam and undeservedly almost unvisited. Their export to the UK was so massive that until far in the 19th century gin was just known as »Schiedam«, like »Delft« is still synonymous with blue painted pottery. They even have a museum dedicated to this liquid pleasure: the Jenevermuseum (not a touristy place, so Dutch only.)

Posted by
2909 posts

If there is someone who hasn't read The Girl With The Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier I would recommend that too. (Trying to put Jane's thread back on track. Sorry, Jane!)

Posted by
4651 posts

It's okay, Mona; I wandered off myself. And ditto to the post about "Tim's Vermeer." We enjoyed that one very much.

Renee, where are you staying? We're booked at the Amadeus.

Posted by
357 posts

Tomfromlieden thank you. I had heard about Schiedam and the museum but we are not going to make it this trip (especially as sadly I do not know any Dutch with the exception of hallo, goed door, dank je, alstublieft, and yes... jenever).
A little unrelated, and you all may know, but I just signed up for a Rijksmuseum / Drawing tour
that they offer on Saturdays
I have recently taken up sketching (I'm working on hobbies as I near retirement).

Jane we have an apartment in Vijfhoek area.

Posted by
4651 posts

Renee, check your dates again:

free Friday, April 14th or Sunday, April 16th

Friday is the 13th, Sunday the 15th.

Our RS tour starts the 15th, but we might be able to meet up on the Friday. The only thing we're locked into that day (so far) is the Corrie ten Boom House that morning.

That drawing tour looks interesting, as well. I've done a little drawing and watercolors, but not lately. Whoever said you have more free time after you retire, come explain to me how it works. Please.

Posted by
357 posts

Sorry. Yes we will be in Amsterdam April 13 and Sunday, April 15. We will be in Haarlem the other evenings. We leave for Belgium on the 18th.

Posted by
4651 posts

Renee, want to meet in Haarlem the 14th? After the Rijkmuseum thing? I don't want to commit, though. Who knows what will pop up between now and then. But maybe a drink after dinner?

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4651 posts

I just finished "Eye of the Beholder," recommended by tonfromleiden above. It's a dandy. Yes, it's highly speculative, but very informative, looking at what is actually involved in what we call "seeing." It discusses the use of various devices including magnifying glasses, the camera obscura, and even (or especially) microscopes!

It's much more interesting than I've made it sound, and makes me want to get my paints out again!