Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mill on a Bruges Canal

Pen Study – This windmill stands on the banks of a quiet canal between Bruges and Dammer. I discovered it while taking a boat excursion and there was barely time to get down a scribbled impression so I had to work it up with the aid of a photograph.

Mills, waterways, and canals occur in many of Rembrandt’s drawings in pen and bistre. Occasionally he worked them up as etchings but mostly he seems to have done them for relaxation – a form of escape from his studio enterprise perhaps.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Canals, Beer and Chocolates

I'm just back from a trip by Eurostar to Bruges. It is city frequently compared with Venice because of its canals. That's about the only thing thing the two places have in common though - apart from the tourists. Like Venice the place fills up with tour parties during the day. Evenings though are magical when the place becomes quiet. That's the time to enjoy the restaurants and the beer. Then there is the other Belgian speciality - Chocolate. The plan was to fill a sketchbook but the crowds and responsible beer tasting made this almost impossible so I had to rely on my digital camera.

Bruges has altar pieces by Van Eyck and the Flemish primitives which are not to my taste. But Antwerp is less than hour away and it was marvellous to see Rubens on his own ground. There are two large altar pieces by him in the Cathedral and his house - now a museum - has some masterly portraits. There are some who think he is overshadowed by Rembrandt but for me his outstanding achievement was to bring a touch of Italy north of the alps that at least makes him Rembrandt's equal