Rotterdam is the largest port city on the North Sea, and in the Province of South Holland. Its rivers, Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt, form a delta at the sea, giving waterway access into the heart of Western Europe. Rotterdam has earned the nicknames, “Gateway to Europe”, and “Gateway to the World” because of its distribution system which includes rail, roads, and waterways. During World War II, Rotterdam’s city center was almost completely destroyed but was rebuilt because of its strategic location. Today the city has more bold and modern architecture than most other Dutch cities. Rotterdam has many fine attractions such as the Erasmusbrug, a modern suspension bridge, known as “The Swan”. There is also a zoo, a maritime museum, and a fine art museum called Boijmans Van Beuningen. The art museum opened in 1849 and derives its name from two important collectors, Frans Boijmans, and Daniel George Van Beuningen. We had the pleasure of visiting this outstanding museum the day after we arrived in the Netherlands.
On the morning of May 29th, we walked over to the Dordrecht Merwekade ferry stop and took a waterbus to the Erasmusbrug stop in Rotterdam. The hour trip cost us about 16.00 Euro each, round trip. When we got to the stop in Rotterdam, we walked along the canal, to Museum Park where Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is located.
The museum which has a spectacular collection of western art from the middle ages to the present day was well worth the admission price of 17.50 Euro per person. One of my favorite pieces in the museum is a painting called “The Mandrill”, done in 1926 by Oskar Kokoschka. His subject was an ape called George, in the London zoo, who he painted with a bold and colorful style emphasizing the monkey’s wild and untamed nature. Another favorite of mine in the museum is “Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans”, 1880-1881, Edgar Degas. I think I liked it because it is a depiction of two of my favorite subjects, dance, and sculpture. His model was fourteen-year-old Marie Van Goethem, and the sculpture was done in colored wax and furnished with real hair, real clothes, a silk bow, and ballet slippers. When the sculpture was exhibited in 1881, it caused quite a scandal. The public was shocked by its realism and the critics dismissed it saying that it looked more like a monkey. Degas defended his work by saying that his wax figures were meant to be study materials for his paintings, but he never showed them again. After his death, 28 bronzes were cast from the original wax figures. I’ve always been very moved by the 19th-century Impressionist painters. There are some fine paintings from this period in the museum. One in particular that I was very taken with was “The Vase With Poppies”, by Claude Monet, done in 1883.
Tim was very impressed by the museum’s varied exhibits of Surrealism. Surrealism was launched in1924, by the French author Andre Breton. He believed that Surrealism was about exploring the subconscious and expressing one’s thoughts through words or images. The museum’s extensive collection of Surrealist art includes works by Rene Magritte, Yves Tanguy, PaulDevaux, And Tim’s favorite Salvador Dali. Dali was known for combining two items that had nothing to do with each other. He believed the resulting objects reflect repressed impulses and desires. In 1970-71, 200,000 people visited the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, when they successfully launched an exhibition of Dali’s work.