Tag Archives: van Gogh

…writing, art at home…

I am forever lost in the world of Art. In so many ways. And I love it. Just like Dante’s alter ego in The Divine Comedy’s opening lines of Purgatory, I find myself lost. He found himself lost among the tall, dark trees, lost in his middle age. I, on the other hand, find myself lost among paintings, ink sketches, water colours, reference books, auction house catalogues, antiques, artist biographies. It is a fantastic way of being lost, since the feeling makes me search and explore. I want to learn more, see more, find more. Ponder on what art and beauty gives us. On what it means. Revel in being adrift on the sea of fine arts.

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A small part of the reference library in my study. I can’t function without these books.

Having spent a fair amount of time writing a two-part article on art for a recently started magazine, I got thinking on what kind of art I surround myself with. What am I looking at when I’m at home? When walking through a corridor, walking out of the bedroom, sitting at my desk? What am I dreaming of acquiring to hang on my walls? To someone like myself even, who spends his life in the fine arts, it can easily become just a fascination. The hunt for another object or more knowledge on art becomes a way of life. It is easy to forget what’s around you.

Hard at work, but extremely rewarding as always.

Hard at work, but extremely rewarding as always.

When working, I don’t have any big paintings hanging around me. Just the books on the shelves in the study. They supply me with over 100,000 pictures if needed. Whichever period of art, whichever architectural movement, I can find something on most topics among all the books. But as a reminder of previous periods in life, I have two small postcards stuck to the window-frame. One of Paris, by van Gogh, and one of Amsterdam painted by Monet. The postcard over London, what feels like my second home town, has disappeared in a recent move.

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At times the personal has to come before professional pride. Also for an antiques dealer and art historian.

One of my favourite periods of art is Early Romanticism. It’s stretching from about 1790 until the late 1830s. It was a great period for Northern European artists travelling to the southern parts of Europe. There they learnt to handle light, shades, and got the oportunity to learn from the old masters visiting museums. The water colour became a medium for professional artists as well as for amateurs. Up until now it had not been an accepted medium for professionals. This makes the late Regency period, also called Empire and Biedermeier style in interior design and pictorial arts, very interesting. It is today possible to buy high quality water colours from the years around 1800 for almost nothing. Quite incredible really, but the style isn’t very fashionable for the moment. It was up until ten years ago. And will soon be again. For sure.

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Another favourite is this little adorable cherub by Johan Gustaf Köhler, painted in Munich in 1836. He was Carl Larsson’s teacher in sketching at the Academy.

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Water colour from 1806, painted by Sophie Tersmeden, hanging in the bedroom.

So what is someone like me dreaming of? Oh, a lot of things. But a few weeks ago I found a painting I felt I could not live without. But I forgot about the auction, and I guess that was just as well. The painting didn’t sell cheap. It was a beautiful oil painting of a passage under Colosseum in Rome, painted around 1815 by the father of the Danish “Golden Age”, C. W. Eckersberg. It sold for €24,000 which meant it almost doubled the asking-price. If I’d only had the money, and remembered the auction,  the painting would be hanging in my dining room now. I know the perfect wall! But until I have the oportunity to buy that kind of art, I will carry on leafing through my books for more knowledge and constant inspiration.

The latest in a pile of inspirational reads, "Ann Getty: Interior Style"

The latest book in the huge pile of inspirational reads, “Ann Getty: Interior Style”

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Filed under Antiques, Art, Auction Houses, Culture

Coffee in Amsterdam: part 3

For once I’m not as ecstatic as I usually am. It’s a shame really, I was expecting more from my visit to Brandmeester’s Koffie on Van Baerlestraat 13. I guess it would be unfair to say that it’s not good since that’s not the case. The coffee is supreme and, well, I was just expecting something more than a shop with a bar desk in the middle where one can sit on uncomfortable chairs.  And the staff wasn’t particularly smiley either. Fine, it was a dreadful day with torrential rain but come on, that should not be reflected in the general mood of the staff.  That’s just not on, guys.

The coffee then? With a great La Marzocco and a skilled, if a bit overly Dutch, barista and high quality roasted beans it is every inch as good as one might demand from a place like this.  Brandmeester’s have shops with café service in Amsterdam, Harlem and Utrecht. I haven’t been to all of them but I can’t imagine anything else than that they are as good as the one I went to in Amsterdam. But beware, it is a shop and not a coffee house. It is a place you go to either to get barista equipment or a take away coffee. Not to sit and enjoy your coffee. And I must say that is a capital mistake from their side. They would, if they were interested, get even more customers and would be talked about in a different way if they made parts of the shops nice and cosy. Since they offer muffin, croissants and the like there is an apparent effort towards hospitality. So the drive is there, if not particularly thought through. A shame, that’s all I can say.

The question I always ask myself after a visit like this is: will I go back? The answer has to be: yes, if I’m in the neighbourhood and want a coffee-to-go when on my way to the van Gogh Museum or Concertgebouw which happens to be in the area. However, I would not go there just to get a coffee. It’s to far off the beaten track and after being supremely disappointed with the interior and the general uncomfortableness of the sitting area I must be a grumpy old sod who says “no, this just isn’t good enough”. As a shop I can see it’s brilliant, but I didn’t go there looking for a barista brush. I went there to sit down with my TLS and a good cappuccino. Next time I’ll enjoy it on a bench in a park nearby. That’ll be nicer and more comfortable.

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Filed under Amsterdam, Barista, Coffe Houses, Coffee, Food and Drink