I buy postcards of paintings that I like when I visit museums. I visit a lot of museums, so I have a few dozen at my desk at work. The following is a list of my five favorite currently on display.
Why? Because I was starting at them in a quiet moment and asked myself the question.
Rembrandt van Rijn, The Syndics of the Clothmaker’s Guild, 1662, Oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
It’s the Dutch Masters! A real surprise when I saw it in person. I expected it to be cool, if just for the novelty, but it’s really an amazing painting that captures a lot of what I love about Rembrandt. One of my favorite paintings by Rembrandt in general and one of my favorite paintings in Amsterdam. Lofty status indeed.
Caravaggio, Taking of Christ, 1598, Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
This painting turned me into an instant Caravaggio fan. He was supernaturally talented and every ounce of that talent is on display in this painting. It’s a real stunner.
As a note, I’m currently reading The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, which tells the story of thise paintings rediscovery.
Frans Hals/ Pieter Codde, Company of Captain Reinier Reael, known as the ‘Meagre Company’ 1637, Oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
This painting is currently hanging opposite The Night Watch in the Rijksmuseum. The room is easily one of the most impressive displays of art I’ve ever seen. Somewhat surprisingly, I was far more drawn to The Meagre Company than I was to the Rembrandt masterpiece. There’s just something about it that appeals to me. I like Hals in general, but this painting was on another level entirely.
Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot With a Bouquet of Violets, 1872, Oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay
Manet is easily one of my favorite painters and this painting captures a lot about what I like about his work and, more importantly, about the time period in general. This painting, like Sargent’s Claude Monet Painting (to pick one I’ve seen recently) offers a private look into the personalities and relationships behind the scenes of one of my favorite periods in art history.
Johannes Vermeer, View of Delft, c. 1660-1661, oil on canvas, Mauritshuis, The Hague
This painting hangs opposite Girl With a Pearl Earring. I spent a good twenty minutes trying to decide which of the two I liked better. This painting won on pure viruosity. Of all of the Vermeer paintings I’ve seen, this one might be the most remarkable example of his incomparable skill. From every angle and from every distance this painting offers something new to discover or appreciate or to simply be awed by. Well worth the day trip down from Amsterdam.