AUGUST 22, 1956
THE HAGUE, Holland—After an hour on Sunday at the museum in Amsterdam we drove to Rotterdam and there the curator of the museum, himself, came to show us the collection of Rembrandt paintings gathered from all over the world.
It was extremely interesting to see the examples of this great master's early paintings. He was very popular and highly regarded until he was about 36, when he chose to continue painting in a way that pleased himself but not the public of the day, and he died penniless, having been obliged to sell his beautiful collections of jewelry and lovely materials, etc.
His funeral was paid for by the municipality. Sometime later the public began to admire the character depicted in the faces of his late paintings and the use of light and shadow. This resulted in renewed popularity and placed Rembrandt firmly in the position which he holds today.
His religious paintings are numerous, but almost secular in a way, for the Holy Family might be selected from any Dutch family. I admire particularly his paintings of older men and women, and I was glad to see first the drawings which are basic of so many of his paintings.
To really see collections of this kind, one would have to spend many days and many hours. Unfortunately, we did not have this time, but I think we managed to have a very comprehensive view, and we were in The Hague at our hotel by a quarter past five.
At a little after 6 o'clock Lee Blanchard of our embassy took us to his home to meet some of his friends and his five-year-old son. After a very interesting chat with a number of the people from the embassy, we went out to Scheveningen where we dined at The Seinpost. From our table we looked out on the North Sea, with the sound of the sea rolling in and the line of white on the beach just showing up in the darkness.
It was an interesting and pleasant drive afterwards, first to see the old fishing village and the harbor where the fishing boats are berthed. Incidentally, this is the place for herring and the first herring caught in the spring is always sent to the Palace for the Queen.
We saw the land acquired for our new embassy and it is certainly in a most delightful situation, nearly in the center of everything.
That was the end of our day on Sunday—a busy one, but filled with the kind of pleasures I have not experienced for some time.
I think my young people probably enjoyed the morning more than the afternoon, but they met one of their steamer friends—a boy of their own age—who did some painting himself and was extremely enthusiastic about the Rembrandt drawings. I think they enjoyed many of the paintings, though it is not in the nature of things for the young to like to spend too many hours in museums.
Monday morning I had the great pleasure of taking my party out to see the Queen and her mother, Princess Wilhelmina. After a cup of coffee and some very delicious cake, the young people were all taken by a kind lady in waiting to make a tour of the gardens. They were lucky enough to do this before the rain came down again. (We have been so fortunate in escaping the downpours and seeing everything we wanted to see in between times, often when the sun came out at just the appropriate moment.)
I had a really good talk with the Queen and the Queen Mother and was very sorry to leave. I had to lunch with Dr. Kappeyne.