A trip to Sydney from home [Kariong] on the last day of this rare collection of Dutch artists was a trip down memory lane for yours truly. In 1969, I travelled with my mother around the world. We spent a very eventful few days in Amsterdam. Very few people were travelling this particular year. I spent a wonderful afternoon in the Rijksmuseum taking my time, completely alone in the gallery. Not so at the Art Gallery in Sydney this visit - the gallery was packed to the rafters. Long lines of art lovers waited patiently to buy their tickets to see Dutch masters. An understanding young man behind the counter took pity on me after hearing I had travelled down from Kariong by train and let me queue jump.
The Rijksmuseum, known in Amsterdam as the national museum, specialises in arts and history and is one of four museums situated in museum square. It was founded in 1808 in The Hague and moved to its present position in 1808. It has 8,000 objects on display. This is only a tiny portion of the entire collection of over one million pieces dating back to 1200. There are 200 paintings on display, from a collection of 2,000 of this period - referred to as the golden age of Dutch art. The pictures in this travelling exhibition are among the finest from this age, including masterpieces by Rembrandt [7 oils and 15 sketches], Hals and Vermeer, filling 8 rooms.
The day provided an extra bonus for me as I didn't know I would be seeing an international collection at the gallery which is part of the program aiming to bring the world's most outstanding art exhibitions to Sydney.
The 17th contrary was an amazing period in history and world expansion for trade in Holland. The famous Dutch East India Co. was formed in 1682. Amsterdam was one of the most important ports in the world bringing goods from all corners of the world, many of which were Dutch colonies, and these works still thrill audiences with all sorts of subject matter. Throughout other centres of Europe, most artists had patrons from the church, royal courts and the nobility. Dutch artists were free to produce large quantities of works for sale to the free market. Portraits, landscapes, scenes of domestic life and still life pictures of what would be considered exotic fruit and flowers at the time, were popular works to paint.
Art galleries are no longer quiet, stuffy places. You have to watch out for prams, screaming children and walking sticks. My choice of artwork is the old masters and my first visit to the gallery was at the age of 8 with a wonderful great uncle who inspired my love of art. Today the programs include music recitals, a research library and 3 cafes. To spend a day wouldn't cover all on offer.