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Anne van Oorschot knows her way around the Hague! This 13thcentury building survived the wrecking ball when … Down that way is a shop where, if you should every need a hat suitable for a posh wedding … Today you will find in this unassuming Louis XIV building … The famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova died there in … So the king’s carriage passes under this gilded royal crest …
The first stop of our in-depth visit was the Mauritshuis, once the stately residence of VOC sugar baron Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, today an elegant little museum. The majestic stairway and panelled walls hung with Golden Age masterpieces make you want to lower your voice to a whisper. We had a chance to see more Jan Steen (whose work figured prominently in the TIC guest lecture “Saints and Sinners “ of a couple weeks ago). Steen was from a wealthy Catholic beer brewing family. A complicated man, his paintings pull back the curtain sometimes on rich 17thcentury interiors, sometimes on intimate domestic scenes, and sometimes on episodes of Burgers-behaving-badly.
We had lunch at Schlemmer, haunt of politicians, artists and theatre folk, that appears little changed since subway tiles were put on the walls around the turn of the century (the one before this one that is). We sat at a plank table, in a decidedly gezellig corner, and had an oh-so-Dutch lunch of hot soup and boterham.
Next stop: Panorama Mesdag (which is nothing at all likethe rather decrepit panorama at Waterloo). A tiny gallery lined with exquisite seascapes ended at upward spiralling steps. As we climbed we began to hear screeching gulls and lapping water; at the top we walked into the sunlight and found ourselves in a gazebo on top of a sand dune, and before us a 360 degree view of Scheveningen, fresh as the day it was painted in 1881 thanks to a ten-year restoration—glass top to sandy bottom.
We took a coffee break in the bright adjoining café, but time was a wastin’ and there was still one stop to go before closing time. We headed at a quick pace for the Peace Palace. One side of the reception center is almost fully glass, the gardens beyond green and quiet, on the other side it’s dusk-dark, a black and white film of momentous international events showing in a loop—this is why the world needs a place like this. I could almost hear Bob Dylan singing Blowing in the Wind; Yes, and how many years …?