Last Year In Amsterdam

It’s a new year and a new blog! I am going back to last year for my first one of the year to revisit a moment I don’t want to forget!

There aren’t many places you can get on a plane from Inverness and just be there. One of them is Amsterdam and my husband and myself took full advantage of that fact last October. In less than 2 hours we were in Amsterdam.

Readjusting to walking where bicycles rule supreme takes some time and attention. The canals, the houseboats and the bikes all make for a less harried atmosphere. There seems to be a zen way of cycling as they negotiate people, cars and scooters.

The Rijksmuseum is an amazing place with, of course, incredible artworks. But my most moving moment there was seeing Vermeer’s small work ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’. I had a postcard of it hanging on my bulletin for a very long time and seeing it ‘live’ was amazing.

I didn’t realise it was so small which makes it all the more powerful, the light and the blue of her top so vivid as she is reading the letter. The delicate brush strokes and the detail is breathtaking.

There is an ambiguity to the work as we anticipate what may happen after she finishes reading the letter. Was it good news or bad news? She is pregnant – is this significant? We never know but it brings you back again and again to this amazing piece of work.

It is both familiar, intimate and universal…a moment in time captured so movingly by one of the masters.


Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, Johannes Vermeer, about 1663–64. Oil on canvas, 18 5/16 x 15 3/8 in. (49.6 x 40.3 cm). Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.



2 Responses to “Last Year In Amsterdam”

  1. Pat Hay

    Hello Pat:

    I am also Pat Hay, born in Dumbarton, Scotland, now living in Canada, came across your Vermeer review, just thought I would drop you a line and ask if you have seen the documentary ” Tim’s Vermeer” produced by Penn Gillette of Penn and Teller. It is most interesting, as an artist well worth a watch.


    • Pat Hay

      Just saw this comment and it is very kind of you to get in touch Pat Hay.:) What an amazing place the world is! I have heard of ‘Tim’s Vermeer’ but have not seen it…will definitely check it out! Thank you


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