The Queen’s Collection, Holyrood Palace, #Edinburgh #Rembrandt

One of the reasons I was excited to visit Holyrood Palace this time around, was because of the chance to see a small selection of paintings that are normally on display in Buckingham Palace, but were on loan to the Queen’s Gallery.

In particular, I was excited to see paintings by Rembrandt for the first time in person, and not just look at photos of them.

This is going to sound like a cliché, because I’ve just presented you with a photograph, but, standing just a couple of feet away from this painting, for the first time I truly understood why Rembrandt is considered a Master. As you peer into the painting, you meet his eye, and actually feel like you are about to strike up a conversation with the artist himself.

I can probably explain even better with this one:

Now, Agatha Bas is not a particularly beautiful woman, and Rembrandt does not try to flatter, but paints what he sees. The exquisite artistry in this painting is, as the label says, in her clothing which, of course, you can’t really see in a photograph, so let me paint a picture with words.

The detail of the front of her dress, on her locket, and in particular on the extensive decorative lace, is extraordinary, particularly where her right cuff folds over slightly, making for a less-than-perfect, but very real, pose. What is even more incredible is the fan, built up with layers of paint stippled to an amazing depth, so that the fan literally juts out from the painting.

And her hand on the frame. At any second, you expect Agatha to step right through the frame, as if it’s a doorway. A photograph can only hint at these things, but believe me, the presence of Agatha Bas leaves you expecting her to join you in the room at any moment.

And one of the best parts about this gallery is that there is nothing to stop you getting right up close – no barriers, no distance you are expected to maintain. The temptation to touch is challenging, but I suspect one of the stewards hovering nearby might have something to say if you tried.

Other paintings I particularly enjoyed experiencing were Athena, by Parmigianino

The somewhat shocking juxtaposition of beauty and death in ‘Judith with the head of Holofernes’

And this particular Van Dyck

Have you ever been up close and personal with a masterpiece? How did it make you feel?

11 comments

  1. It is a different feeling, to be so close to a masterpiece painted hundreds of years ago. I used to travel (some) and always went to museums and art galleries. I couldn’t walk through them without feeling I was in touch with the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s a big part of it, alongside marvelling at the incredible technique. I like to both look up close, and stand back to admire.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Seeing a masterpiece up close and in person is awe-inspiring. I visited the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and saw many paintings I had long admired. It was an incredible experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I might visit some more galleries now – there’s truly nothing like seeing exquisite paintings in person. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow Deb. Fabulous art, like walking into a time capsule. I especially loved seeing Rembrandt’s works. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are so fortunate these works of art have been so carefully preserved for generations. Time capsule indeed ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I would love to see those paintings in person, Deborah. Photos just aren’t the same. I loved how you described Rembrandt’s self-portrait. Thanks for sharing the art and your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was definitely what I discovered: photos cannot do justice to such wonderful works of art.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a beautiful Palace to explore! I would love to see the interior in person one day 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am very fortunate to live near enough to so many fabulous places.

      Liked by 1 person

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