At last I was to find out which painting Van Gogh sold in his lifetime. Not that I’ve seen it, because it’s in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, but here’s a picture of it – the Red Vineyard. We visited the Kröller-Müller Museum at Otterlo, which is a purpose-built museum surrounded by a marvellous sculpture garden, set in a National Park. If you have time to explore, you can borrow one of their white bicycles and spend a day there. I loved it. Helène K-M was a keen art collector who, with her husband, spent thirty years buying works of art, then his business did something of a wobble in the mid-thirties and, to make sure the collection would remain intact, they donated it to the state. There have been some additions since, but that’s most of it, though there are too many to put on show.
It really is a lovely place and the quality of the paintings is breathtaking. I didn’t take many pictures, though it wasn’t forbidden, but I’m afraid I haven’t got around to sorting them out yet – a thousand words will have to paint a picture on this occasion, but do visit if you have a chance. And go on a fine day, the gardens are just wonderful. It was another occasion when I parted company from the others and rambled around on my own and was perfectly happy.
It was such a lovely place that it felt as if we’d done enough for the day really, but we obediently piled back on the bus and set off again. By the time we reached Het Loo (The Woods), we’d recovered our keenness. Het Loo was a Royal summer palace, very much loved by the Dutch royal family. Queen Wilhelmina chose to live there after her abdication and it was where she died in 1962. She had been immensely distressed when it was taken over by the invading Germans during the War and, for a while, didn’t want to return, but managed to love it again. On her death, she asked that it be given to the state and opened to public view.
It was a fine place with beautiful gardens. If you visit, it’s worth having the audio guide, because it gives so much history. Some of our party didn’t want it, though it was included in the entrance price we had paid, but I noticed they were the ones who didn’t spend much time in each room, because it had been laid out skilfully as a tour through Dutch royal history.
The Dutch king William III had three sons with his first wife – who loathed him – but they all predeceased him. After she died, he remarried – his bride, Emma, was only 20 and he was over 60. Wilhelmina was their only child; he died when she was ten and she became Queen, with Emma as Regent until she grew up. In due course, W had one child, Juliana, whose eldest daughter, Beatrix, abdicated this year in favour of her son Willem-Alexander.
Fine as the furniture and artefacts at Het Loo are, an abiding memory will be of the hunting trophies of W’s husband, particularly the horribly disconcerting elephant’s trunk turned into a support for a wall light. Not that I wish to put you off, it’s well worth visiting and the gardens are beautiful.
I know you must be thinking we were a troop of culture-vultures who descended on a place for the purpose of ticking it off a list, but I don’t think it was the attitude of any of us. It was a pretty expensive visit overall, we wanted to make the most of our time, and it’s not so far away, it gave us all ideas for future holidays. Many of us had been to some of the places, no one to all of them.
I’ve only reached Friday night so far, still a day and a half to come. Aren’t you glad I started? Heh. In fact, it’s lovely to cast my memory back, I’ve had such a busy week that it could easily have slipped right to the back of my mind. I haven’t got very good photos, they were intended to jog my memory rather than to display (I only used my phone) but I’ll put some up in a couple of days, if I get around to it.
For tonight, reading more job applications.