Amsterdam: Part IV

Two days ago was the obligatory visit to the Rijksmuseum, the epicenter of Rembrandt paintings, drawings, and etchings. The building dates from 1885 and includes, besides the Greatest Painter of All Time (my opinion), works by Hals, Vermeer, and even the stray Van Gogh.

I was lucky to be there for the “All the Rembrandts” exhibit, celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Master’s death. The name means that every Rembrandt work possessed by the Museum was on display, not every Rembrandt in the world (I wish).

In the garden before the entrance was a beautiful Eurasian magpie (Pica pica), a corvid and a bird of high intelligence.

You can see ALL the Rembrandts online, so I won’t reproduce pictures of them (I took only a few anyway). What struck me was how different going to art museums is now that people have cellphone cameras. You can take photographs in the Rijksmuseum without using a flash, and what happens is what you see below with The Night Watch. Many people photograph the painting but don’t spend any time looking at it. Many even take selfies with a painting, apparently just to show that they were there. It’s a strange way to appreciate art.

Ditto with The Milkmaid, by Johannes Vermeer. I also consider him one of the ten best painters of all time.

A lovely Rembrandt etching:

Otherwise I took pictures of waterfowl and cats in the big collection of paintings. Here’s a duck that, sadly, has joined the Choir Invisible, destined for dinner.

One of the nicest paintings in the Rijksmuseum, “The Threatened Swan” by Jan Asselijn, painted in 1650. An aggressive swan protects its nest and eggs from an approaching dog. It brims with life and is a tour de force for that age. Here I’m admiring it.

A happy mallard helping a bunch of other birds attack a raven for stealing their feathers. This is part of Melchior d’ Hoendecoeter’s painting The Raven Robbed of the Feathers He Wore to Adorn Himself” (1671).

A section of “A Pelican and Other Birds Near a Pool” (ca. 1680), also by Melchior d’Hondecoeter. There’s a passel of ducks, including a muscovy, a mallard, and, at top right with the brownish-red eye ring, an Egyptian duck (see below for a live one):

More ducks; I don’t know the painting.

Jan Steen’s “The Dancing Lesson” (also known as “Children Teaching a Cat to Dance”), painted between 1660 and 1679. Cats didn’t like it any better back then, and the old dude at the top is telling the kids to knock it off.

The Drunken Couple” by Jan Steen, painted between 1655 and 1665. Note the cat looking up incredulously at its besotted staff.

The boy at lower left has a kitten, but I can’t remember the painting and can’t be arsed to look it up. Maybe we have an art-history genus reading this who can name the painting:

A nice Art Deco building near the Rijksmuseum.

Yesterday was another obligatory (and another wonderful) visit—this time to the Van Gogh Museum, a five-minute walk from the Rijksmuseum. (Note; i recommend not seeing them both on way day because of the possibility of ocular exhaustion.) Here’s a picture of Van Gogh’s palette, which is on display. van Gogh is in my top five of World’s Best Painters, so I was lucky enough to see three of them in just two days.

Almond Blossoms (1890), painted the year van Gogh died.

Still Life with Mussels and Shrimp” (1886):

Cypresses and Two Women (1890). This was the year van Gogh died after having shot himself in the chest. In my view, these late paintings are his best.

Winter Garden” (1884), pencil, pen and ink.

A post-Museum waffle. They come in all grades from plain to chocolate-iced to this one, including chocolate icing, drizzle, and a Twix bar embedded in the top. They get even fancier than this, including strawberries or raspberries. Dutch waffles are GOOD!

A herring stall near my hotel. I haven’t yet worked up the courage to try raw herring Dutch style, but I am going to try.

A sign in the herring stall. Translation, please?

A box of cat cards in a store. What are these? From knowing German I can make out “advice cards” from “the world’s most famous cat”.

Curiously, although I’ve seen a few coots and swans in the canals, I haven’t seen a single mallard. I got excited when I saw ducklike shapes swimming in the canal near the Central Station, but upon closer inspection they turned out to be a new species for me: the Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca). It’s the only species in the genus Alopochen, and Wikipedia says it’s most closely related to shelducks, which are ducks and not geese.

Do you see it in the painting above? It’s clearly been in Holland since the 17th century, Why is it here? Wikipedia says, “[The species] spread to Great Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy where there are self-sustaining populations which are mostly derived from escaped ornamental birds.”

It is a handsome DUCK (not a goose; I cannot be enamored of geese). Looking up divergence times in TimeTree, I find that the common ancestor of the Egyptian “goose” and the mallard lived about 20 million years ago, while the common ancestor of the Egyptian “goose” and the Canada goose lived about 28 million years ago. One always finds this species most closely related to other ducks than to other geese. Since I don’t think ducks and geese are paraphyletic, this is not a goose. It is apparently called a goose because it’s larger than most ducks, and is very chunky.

Here’s the natural range map of the Egyptian goose:



  1. Alex Kraaijeveld
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    “Eat pike and perch, as much as you want

    “Eat eel, without number

    “But doctor’s advice gives most benefit

    “Eat herring above all!

  2. yazikus
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I imagine it takes some effort to put up these posts while travelling – and for that I offer a hearty thank you!

    I was able to visit both of those museums some 17 years ago, and the pictures brought back very fond memories.

  3. merilee
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I’ve almost stopped going to art galleries since the increased popularity of selfies. Regular cameras are/were bad enough. 20 years ago at the wonderful Monterey Aquarium it was very hard to see any of the fish over/around the people with their cameras raised, and these people feeling thst they had priority over those of us just looking. The selfies are probably worse. Just to bore all their friends showing that they were there⁉️
    Off my lawn (knickers in a twist)😖

    • darrelle
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      I don’t think I’ve ever taken a picture of art at a museum that I was touring, but I did try to take pictures of art that I installed when I did that sort of thing, including museum exhibits, just to keep a record.

      • max blancke
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        I tend to sneak pictures of obscure works that I am particularly impressed with. The main goal is to remind myself to investigate the work and the artist at a later time.

        Years ago, a couple of friends and myself hiked from the beach to “Christ the Redeemer” in RDJ. It was not much better close up than from a distance, and visiting it was really a matter of one more thing to check off the list. We took a group photo, and headed back down. But in good museums, I tend to stand and ponder until my wife can’t take it anymore.

        I suspect that people today are just not very good at contemplative stillness.

    • Ray Little
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      When I was there, at least, New York’s Frick Museum forbade photography. An excellent idea, though perhaps not something a public museum could pull off.

      • Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        This varies a lot.

        Most just prohibit flash. But the Orsay prohibits photos.

        I DO take photos in museums sometimes, but scene photos: People in the museum, that sort of thing, generally. And I do NOT monopolize the space in front of artworks.

        Rodin Museum garden:

        • Steve Pollard
          Posted March 29, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          If the Orsay really does prohibit photos, they’re not very assiduous in enforcing the ban. During our last visit in November, we were driven to distraction by the snappers and selfie-takers.

          In February we visited Notre Dame, for the first time in 25 years, and would have enjoyed the little exhibition showing the development of the cathedral over the ages, had it not been for a woman who positioned herself between us and the exhibits in order to take photos of them all. I am glad to say that she was torn off a strip by a French gentleman next to us, using language that would have been pretty ripe even outside a holy place!

          • merilee
            Posted March 29, 2019 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

            BRAvo Gentilhomme français!

      • Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Glanum Historical Site, Provence:

      • Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        The Louvre:

        • rickflick
          Posted March 29, 2019 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

          The guard on the left is unarmed. Shoot at will.

      • Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        The Natural History Museum (London):

    • dabertini
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Good point. Only PCC(e) should be allowed to take pix. After all he has to feed 60 000 of us ducks.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      I’m buggered if I can understand the mania for taking selfies. The point of taking a photo of some scenery is surely to enjoy the picture later. Why the hell would I want my ugly mug in the way? I know what I look like, I don’t need reminding. Are selfie takers so insecure they don’t think anyone will believe them if their ugly mug isn’t in shot?

      (If I’m photographed *doing* something – like all hung out sideways in my car on an autocross course – yep, I’ll grab a copy of that, thanks. But that’s very different pictorially from photo-of-scenery-with-my-ugly-mug-obscuring-most-of-it)


      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        The selfista [my coinage]: It speaks of an interior void or possibly a means to counter insecurity. A person with a an adequate amount of self worth would be not needing to go “look at me!” by camera. I might break my aversion for a few seconds if I could share a shot with a person I admired, but how likely am I to bump into a silverback gorilla, the love ’em & leave ’em Honey duck or Iggy Pop?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 30, 2019 at 6:55 am | Permalink

          Slightly to my regret, on the (vanishingly rare) occasions when I’ve bumped into famous people, there hasn’t been an obliging bystander with a camera handy. (Let’s see: Sir Albert Henry, first Prime Minister of the Cook Islands; an ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand, also on the beach in Rarotonga; and David Bowie, also, as it happens, in a bar in Rarotonga. I think I start to see a pattern developing here… )


      • rickflick
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure why selfies are so popular, but it seems they are mostly a teenage phenomenon. Perhaps there’s something about identity formation going on.

      • Posted April 1, 2019 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        I’ve been taking self-portraits for a long time, using fisheye lenses. Once in a while, it is fun to see yourself in the environment.

        I think the fisheye effect helps show that it should not be taken too seriously.


        • Posted April 1, 2019 at 7:56 am | Permalink

          Nepal, at about 14,000 feet:

        • Posted April 1, 2019 at 7:59 am | Permalink


          These are all from long before cell phones. (Well, not quite, they existed but were those huge bricks that only ostentatiously self-important people hauled around.)

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 9:47 am | Permalink


    About cell phones : lately I’ve been working to leave the damn thing in my pocket – even when it’s a timekill moment. I also see the sadness of being present before these paintings, yet ignoring what they offer. I will remember this.

    • merilee
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      That dancing cat sure has a hooman face.

  5. sgo
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I am really enjoying the Amsterdam photos. I hope you’ll be able to go to the Keukenhof to see the tulips – it’s open already. And while I can really recommend the herring, I can also understand the hesitation. It’s not in season yet by the way, as far as I know, and won’t be until later.

    Sign translations: The first one is in rhyme, quite nicely actually, in a bit of more old fashioned language advising the reader to eat a lot of herring, on doctors advice. Literal translation:

    Eat as many “snoek” (wiki says, Thyrsites atun)and European perch (“baars”, thanks to wiki) as you like.
    Eat lots of eel.
    But you’ll get the best result from doctor’s advice:
    eat mostly herring!

    The other one states “Cat gurus – wisdoms from the world’s most famous cats”. It has 50 advice cards.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      It is slightly archaic Dutch, and I would have translated the rhyme differently, but you are basically correct. Except for ‘snoek’, which is the (fresh water) pike in french ‘brochette’, aka Northern Pike, Esox Lucius.
      The Thyrsites atun is a popular seafish here in South Africa, and indeed called ‘snoek’ in Afrikaans, but it is a completely different fish, not found in the Northern hemisphere at all.
      The doctor’s advice will benefit you most: Eat herring above all! I can second that, if not for your health at least for your taste buds, I’m as great fan of ‘maatjes’, raw herring pre-digested by it’s own enzymes, a treat!

      • sgo
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the update on snoek – I didn’t realize I may have looked at the wrong wiki page! I always find translating fish names difficult, as the English names don’t mean much to me …

        And please do give your translation of the rhyme – mine was sort of on the fly.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted March 29, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          There are already five translations circulating on this thread, I could not add anything.
          BTW, I just ate snoek today, the Thyrsites atun one. ‘Snoek’ and hake are the most popular and common fishes here (as a meal).
          ‘Snoek’ with garlic and apricot jam over the coals (a braai) is a classic and very popular dish in the Cape.

          • Posted March 29, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

            Hoor, hoor!
            Snoek braai is a staple in Cape Town.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    In the garden before the entrance was a beautiful Eurasian magpie (Pica pica), a corvid and a bird of high intelligence.

    See? Since you’ve embraced the Oxford comma, we know the garden contained one bird, not three. 🙂

  7. rickflick
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Such wonder art! It makes me anxious to think that so many great artist of the past found it hard to make a living, yet to day their works go for millions.

    • Posted March 29, 2019 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Van Gogh paintings are so beautiful, I just cannot understand why nobody wanted to buy them in his lifetime!

    • dvandivere
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:32 am | Permalink

      When the Mauritshuis obtained Girl With a Pearl Earring, it cost about the same as two dozen eggs.

      Artists go into and out of fashion all the time.

  8. Jeannie Hess
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    One of the memorable moments of my life was coming upon Belshazzar’s Feast at the National Gallery, London. It was huge, compelling. I was awestruck. The hairs stood up on my body. Even thinking about it now gives me a chill. Certainly this picture Created awe in religious adherents. I have never since reacted to another painting this way.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Note that at the time, John Martin’s Belshazzar’s feast was rated superior.
      A nice detail is that Rembrandt arranged the message in vertical columns right to left, probably in order to have some reason the ‘wise men’ could not easily decipher it.

  9. Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    thanks for the images! Van Gogh is tops for me … although the Rembrandts are also nice hehe

  10. Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    The unknown painting is Parrot Cage by Jan Steen. Identified by the Google image search method.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      And the parrot is an African Grey, right there in the top ten of intelligent birds. I think most people (except on WEIT, of course 🙂 ) underestimate the remarkable intelligence of corvids and psittacines.
      I’m amazed at all these exotic birds found in 17th century Holland. Must have been quite a business.

  11. Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Many of the paintings of birds seem to show rather anthropomorphized expressions. From this, it seems to me that people back then might understand that animals do have feelings, and through these paintings they were showing that they understood this. Anyway, I thought this interesting.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Damn, that guy in “The Drunken Couple” by Jan Steen is exactly what I’ve always imagined Marmeladov, the drunken character whose daughter is forced into prostitution in Crime and Punishment to have looked like.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      It is said that Jan Steen, Frans Hals and Pieter de Hoogh, often referred to prostitution in their paintings.

  13. Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend Tim’s Vermeer, a movie about trying to duplicate a Vermeer painting.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      I do too – fascinating movie

      • merilee
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Me, three.

    • Dave
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      I just watched that a few weeks ago. Very interesting, indeed.

    • Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I have seen previews of that. Really interesting! Is it probable that Vemeer used this mirror projection method to make his hyper-realistic paintings?

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink


        Seriously – they discuss this.

        • Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          It’s not on Netflix.

          • dabertini
            Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

            Too bad. It is a fabulous movie.

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted March 29, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

            Local Library might have a hard copy
            [ warning – inadvertent advertising follows ]
            iTunes should rent it out
            Amazon Prime I think has it
            I personally think it’ll be worth some trouble to see

      • dvandivere
        Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:33 am | Permalink

        No, and my art restorer wife gets really pissed off at the movie. What it totally misses is that oil paintings are made up of many translucent layers, and Tim’s method totally skipped that.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      A Vermeer or a van Meegeren? 😉


  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Do they do chicken & waffles in Amsterdam? I’ve heard tell the Pennsylvania Dutch (who are actually German, I guess) do, though I’ve had it here only soul-food style.

    • dvandivere
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:33 am | Permalink

      Only as an American thing.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    A sign in the herring stall. Translation, please?

    I can’t translate Dutch, but I’m guessing (with apologies to Jonathan Swift) that it says something like “He was a bold man that first ate a raw herring.” 🙂

  16. Frits M
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I saw too late that sgo beat me to it, but here is my translation anyway, as literal as possible (as Nabokov recommended).

    Eat Pike and Perch as much as thou wantest;
    Eat Eel, without number…
    But doctor’s advice, most beneficial
    Eat Herring above all!

    I admit it sounds archaic and awkward, but that is true for the Dutch text as well.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that is the best of the five translations on this thread.
      It really conveys the archaic and awkward, not to say slightly pompous, character of the original.

  17. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I once went to an exhibit of Greek stuff that was on loan from Greece. There were guards everywhere making sure you didn’t photograph it. I stepped away from the exhibits to send a text and a guard approached me and asked if I was taking a picture. If I were, it would be of my shoes. Meanwhile, there were people that were pretty much photographing the whole exhibit without being noticed. I must look sneaky or maybe I did when was sneaking away to send a text and didn’t want to stand in anyone’s way.

  18. Curtis
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    When I think of Vermeer, my immediate thoughts go to Han van Meegeren who faked Vermeer paintings and sold them to Hermann Goering among others. A great book about it is “The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century” by Edward Dolnick.

    This led to a great debate in my family “Is it moral to sell fakes to the Nazis if your goal is to become rich not to hurt the Nazis?”

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Van Meegeren did not only sell to Goering (as you point out). He was clever to use old canvasses -at least that is the story. What ‘old art’ did he destroy for that?
      I think that in fact ‘finding’ so many ‘Vermeer’s was his ultimate undoing.
      So no, he was not ‘moral’ at all. Did he actually contend to be?

      • Curts
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Van Meegeren definitely acted for his own benefit but, IMO, he helped his country which was in dire straits during the occupation.
        He stole money from the Nazis and then spent lavishly which benefited everybody he bought from. It was an indirect form of stealing from the rich (and evil Nazis) and giving to the poor. For what it is worth, he was extremely popular with his countrymen.

        My question is whether his action were moral? I would say yes because he helped his countrymen. My daughter said no because he was in it for his own benefit.

      • Curtis
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Forgot to add, the art he destroyed was dirt cheap which means it probably was not good art. In any case, he legally bought it.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 29, 2019 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

          I think impecunious painters over the centuries have re-used old canvases of no particular merit (‘wallpaper’) for their own work. So, no moral implications there.


  19. Matthew North
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Sign at herring stall.—

    “Eat Pike and Perch as much as you want. Eat without count. But doctor’s advice is most beneficial, Eat Herring above all,”

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      A very good translation, gives some idea about the archaic type of language in the rhyme.
      ‘Gij’ is very archaic, although the Flemish (southern Dutch) use it as a default for ‘Jij’, arguably one could have used ‘thou’?
      I would say “eat eel without count” instead of “eat without count”.
      ‘Paling’ is ‘eel’, anguilla anguilla.
      Smoked young eel is a Dutch and Frisian delicacy I’m trying to convince our host to sample.

  20. Ray Little
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    100% with you on Rembrandt’s utter pre-eminence. One day in the Frick Museum, I was standing snickering at a Bronzino (I think) of a young Renaissance nobleman, thinking how insufferable that young man must have been when alive, when I was summoned to look at a Vermeer. I turned and looked into the face of Rembrandt, his self-portrait as King David in old age. Vermeer was a fine painter, but I don’t even remember looking at his painting, and have no recollection of what it was, the Rembrandt eclipsed it so completely.

    • rickflick
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      I admire Vermeer greatly. His work evokes subtle yet strong emotions in me. His work is highly technical in that he used the camera obscura to record the exact optical perspective of his indoor subjects. The opportunity for expressive lighting and brush work was limited. Rembrandt, of course, was a true virtuoso when it comes to light and brush. It’s justified to compare the two, but I wouldn’t want to do without either one.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        It’s tough to do selfies with a camera obscura.

        • rickflick
          Posted March 30, 2019 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          Not without some smoke and mirrors.

  21. Ray Little
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    The waffle looked amazing.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      I suspect -by the look of it- the underlying waffle is inspired by the Liège waffle,, the most popular waffle overthere. I think waffles are a Belgian invention, although I’m not 100% sure.
      They (Belgians) certainly have the most variety of waffles, which would make any biologist suspect that there is the place of origin.
      My personal favourite is the Brussels waffle, extremely light, and a subtle taste.

  22. Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    The Van Gogh Museum is one of my favorite museums of the world.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      It is said that Van Gogh never sold a painting during his lifetime. Only once: he paid his Dr with a painting, and the latter used it as a roof for his dog shed. I don’t know how apocryphal that story is, but Vincent Van Gogh is the schoolbook example of a misunderstood genius only recognised posthumously.

      • Posted April 1, 2019 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        + a large number

      • rickflick
        Posted April 1, 2019 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        The story of the painting as kennel roof sounds unlikely in the extreme.
        Dr. Paul Gachet was a great supporter of artists and the Impressionist movement. If memory serves, he was an avid amateur painter himself and did copies of Van Gogh’s paintings. He was a great admirer of Van Gogh.

  23. simonchicago
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    The painting is

    Parrot Cage

    by Jan Steen

    The first character of the signature is the letter S that has the letter J crossing it. The last letter of the signature is clearly an “n” and the letter e is also apparent.
    One could also point to Jan Steen’s usual depiction of theatrical domestic scenes as a hint to the authorship of the painting.

    Or one could, instead of the bs above, do a Google Image search…

  24. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Cat Gurus: Wisdom from the World’s Most Celebrated Felines
    Is a playing card pack of 50 tarot-like cards by Mister Peebles who is the nom de something of the London artist Helen McGinley.

    Here is the front of the English language box:

    cat guru

    And here is one of the cards called THE HUNTER with the wisdom, It’s better to give than receive, unless the gift is chosen by a cat. Never look a gift mouse in the mouth, Be prepared for all your hard work to go unappreciated:

    cat hunter

    Works for me! Lovely cards actually – I like the mouse skeletons on this one.

  25. dabertini
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    That waffle looks divine. One of my favourite foods. Thanks for the pix. They are amazing.

  26. John Harshman
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I have to correct you on one point: both ducks and geese are paraphyletic. That is, the name reflects lifestyle, not phylogeny. Many things called “geese” are all mixed up with other things called “ducks”. Not even “swans” are monophyletic. True geese are the genera Anser and Branta. All other geese, including notably the Cape Barren goose Cereopsis, the South American geese Chloephaga and Neochen, and the pygmy geese Nettapus, are not in that group. Then again, stifftail ducks Oxyura, Nomonyx, plus a number of other odd sorts, are not in the group of typical ducks.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Chloephaga: Greek: χλοη khloē “young green grass”; -φαγος -phagos “-eating”, from φαγειν phagein “to eat”.[1]

      Source : Wikipedia


  27. Posted March 29, 2019 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tour! I found Van Gogh overrated. I’ve seen his work in many museums, but wasn’t in his dedicated museum, yet. I saw scores of lesser known dutch painters side-by-side, I wondered even what the fuzz is about Vermeer and Rembrandt — how do they stand out when Joost Whatshisname paints exact portraits seemingly as good as they did?

    But I was schooled when I saw a collection that has plenty of them, and also the big names, for they have a unique technique they didn’t hide with perfect rendering, and which somehow captures an essence.

    Vermeer’s scene of Delft was far more impressive than the Girl with the Golden Earring in the same room. You go close and you see a bunch of dots and smears, you step a few meters away and it somehow becomes a realistic looking hull of a ship. Rembrandt lights and darkens out out shapes with vivid strokes, that made the characters seem alive, something only painting can do in this way.

    I also saw some Van Gogh next to Mondriaan, who I’d easily put above the former. His transition acrosss various styles into de stijl makes his work all the more impressive.

  28. chrism
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Ah, the magpie. Celebrated in the countryman’s rhyme that told one’s fortune according to the number seen:

    One for sorrow,
    Two for joy,
    Three for a girl,
    Four for a boy,
    Five for silver,
    Six for gold,
    Seven for a secret,
    Never to be told.

    Etc. Sad fact is that they are on the Pest Register in the UK, and thus classed as vermin. They do rather like to eat the eggs and nestlings of other bird species, and aren’t averse to consuming young mammalians when available. For understandable reasons, these behaviours were not why they ended up on the pest register: that was all to do with their propensity to consume grain on farms. Lawmakers do prefer finance to biology, but in the end one has to ask which matters more and why? We are not rational in these matters – I feed squirrels that revel in eating the eggs and nestlings of songbirds, and delight in seeing a cowbird, even though it behaves just like the infamous cuckoo when it comes to the nests of other birds. The rich warp and weft of life at work.

  29. Posted March 29, 2019 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I am a huge admirer of Van Gogh. I agree with our host. Definitely in the top five painters of all time.

  30. Robert Lundgren
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I hate herring – a result of growing up in Minnesota. So during the food tour we took of the Jordan neighborhood of course there was herring on offer. Peer pressure was in the air and I decided I better succumb. Ended up eating half the platter. So good! Nothing like the ill tasting stuff I remember from my childhood. Thought for a moment I was in Japan eating shashimi. Go for it. But get it from a reputable neighborhood fish seller where you know it will be fresh.

    • Robert Lundgren
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Edit: Sashimi

    • Robert Lundgren
      Posted March 29, 2019 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Edit two: “Jordan”

      • Robert Lundgren
        Posted March 29, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        I hate spell check: “Jordaan”

        • dvandivere
          Posted March 30, 2019 at 4:36 am | Permalink

          The folk etymology is that the Huguenots settled into that neighborhood after they got kicked out of France (I forget which of the many massacres that was).

          They really flowered up the neighborhood, so they started calling it Jardin (French for garden), which got transmogrified to Jordaan.

          Not sure if it’s true. It was a terrible slum area into the 60s and 70s, and now it’s a super yuppie neighborhood.

  31. Christopher
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Van Gogh’s palette reminded me of another painter, though not of the same caliber, Thomas Hart Benton. His house is a museum now, located around the midtown/Westport area of Kansas City and has his studio preserved just as he left it. It is a wonderful gem of a museum and I recommend it highly.

  32. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 29, 2019 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    I thought at first that waffle was a van Gogh painting of a bread roll. There was a distinct stylistic resemblance.


    • Curt Nelson
      Posted March 30, 2019 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Me too. It works better as actual food.

  33. Posted March 30, 2019 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Fresh haring is like Dutch sashimi. It is normally eaten by the locals as a snack sliced into 8-10 pieces in a paper tray. Sweet pickles and raw diced onion are optional but I think essential. You eat the pieces with a little plastic or wooden fork.

    Do not be tempted to “slide” a whole haring into your mouth as can sometimes be seen in pictures. I have never seen a local do that!

    In my opinion “‘t Zeekasteel J&M Gudde” is one of the best in Amsterdam.

    Only problem is it is little out of the way and they are not open on Zondag(Sunday)!

  34. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 18, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I just saw this – because the day I post this, is World Heritage Day and Google is promoting something, which led to this :

    Rijksmuseum explorer :

    ^^^ that’s a Google link, shortened. I don’t know how it will work. There’s a longer one but let’s see how this one works.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted April 18, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      OK the link works perfectly.


    • merilee
      Posted April 18, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink


  35. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 18, 2019 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    follow-up to my comment :

    Google also has the van Gogh museum :

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted April 18, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      … however, the “Street View” of each of the floors of the van Gogh museum “Failed to Load” for me.

      the Rijksmuseum worked though – captivating.

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