A woman dressed in a red blouse and a long blue skirt mysteriously leans in an interior courtyard, absorbed in the performance of some daily work. On the right, in the doorway of the adjoining house you can see another woman whose white clothing stands out against a dark background and huddled between the women are two children who seem to be playing on the sidewalk, perhaps playing marbles. In the red brick houses, which are typically Dutch, we see the careful details of the cracks and the arrangement of the bricks, just as we wonder at how thoroughly the shutters, the windows, and the tiled floor are represented… We could look for hours and hours in a state of near hypnosis at the wise and enigmatic way this painting has represented this space (the different open areas, the rear facades, the roofs) and especially the appearance, the way the silence and atmosphere prevail over noise, the reasons for depicting this place, how the geometrical composition gives way to the preference for a sense of temporal materiality, the manner in which this small and beautiful Vermeer canvas is light years away from the artificiality of the pleasant De Hooch paintings that seem to address the same issues. You will find three other masterpieces of the painter from Delft, the unforgettable Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, The Milkmaid and The Love Letter, in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/?lang=en). It may well be the best thing we can do on a summer afternoon when the rain surprises us in the beautiful city of canals, especially now that foreigners are no longer allowed in the coffee shops.
Of course some might prefer to lose themselves in the synesthesia created by the wild explosion of colors that the excellent Van Gogh Museum offers every day. It houses a comprehensive and unique collection of nearly 200 works by the Dutch painter, including works from each of his artistic periods.
The most eccentric among you may choose to wait out the storm by drinking a delicious tea in the elegant cafe of the unique Handbags Museum, which exhibits the collection of Hendrikje Ivo. Be sure to admire the fantastic handiwork of the chimneys on this 17th-century building that is situated in the street Herengracht 573 and serves as its headquarters.
Another option we recommend is a museum of a different kind–the fantastic Museum of Sex, also known as the Temple of Venus, which is at number 18 on the Damrak, next to Central Station. It is a seductive combination offering a collection of erotic artifacts as well as a theme park where one can get lost in the disturbing rooms with suggestive names (Wilde, Sade, Valentino, Mata Hari …) and their corresponding associations.