Hard to See

Michael Kimmelman bemoaned the poor visibility of the Last Supper last week in the NY Times.

The Mona Lisa, of course, is the worst. Always surrounded by crowds that have streamed through the approach corridors (oblivious to the several Leonardos, etc. on the way). With flashbulbs reverberating like gun shots off the protective plastic.

The Ghent Altarpiece, which I saw in April, is pretty bad, too, although it’s still possible to get a sense that the point of the whole thing is not the lamb (which was of course the golden fleece that brought the money to Ghent), but a very realistic Adam and Eve.

It is possible to buy a private hour in the Rijksmuseum  for six thousand euros.

Did I mention the 19% VAT? And that an “art historical program” might be arranged?

Lacking that, the only way to get an unobstructed view of The Night Watch is to extrapolate from a much smaller copy of it placed conveniently on a side wall, from which you can imagine what it would look like if everyone else were gone.

If the The Night Watch room wasn’t always so crowded, you could also get a look, on the opposite wall, of Frans Hals’s great Meagre Company.

In any case, a battle-hardened viewer can learn to cope with boisterous works like Night Watch, but facing the quiet of, say, The Little Street, one yearns for solitude.

If the Vermeer room were ever empty, it would look like this. (Be patient, this image takes a sec to load; left to right, Little Street, Kitchen  Maid, Woman Reading a Letter.)

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