I returned to Amsterdam for a couple of days after the rest of the students and my colleague headed for home. I wanted to follow through on several contacts I’d made earlier in the trip for a story on tobacco control in the Netherlands that I’m writing for Cancer Today.
As I often do when I’m traveling to a place I’ve never been before, I located a hotel online that appeared to be well-priced and centrally located. Turns out, the NH Schiller Hotel was better than I could have imagined, located right on Rembrandtplein, a beautiful green square named for Rembrandt and just a couple of blocks from the house/now-museum where the famous artist lived for much of his life.
My hotel room faced Rembrandtplein, so when I opened my window I could hear the street musicians playing and see people lounging on the lawn–I was lucky enough to experience a relatively warm and sunny Holland during my stay. I also had a clear view of the statue of Rembrandt in the middle of the square, in front of which stood an assortment of sculptures depicting the Naucht Wacht (“Night Watch”), one of Rembrandt’s most celebrated works.
The Naucht Wacht painting is housed in the Rijksmusuem in Amsterdam, where it hangs prominently on a wide wall. The piece, completed in 1642, is essentially a military portrait (a common subject for paintings in the Golden Age of Dutch paintings), but it is unusually large and reveals uses of light and dark that contribute to a sense of movement among the individuals pictured. It is stunning.