Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Visit to the High Museum of Art


Tuesday we went on an amazing fieldtrip to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta to see the exhibit Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis.  This was a fantastic exhibit with the star being Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring

Our first stop at the High was the photo booth.  Sophie and I had on our vintage “pearl” clip on earrings that I found at an estate sale. They didn’t last long on Sophie as she isn’t accustomed to earrings that are not stickers.


There was no photography allowed in the gallery.  We wrote down the names of each painting as we went, but you can buy the official catalogue for the exhibit in the gift shop for $35.  It lists all the paintings in the exhibit, divided into the different types of paintings: Portraits and Tronies, Landscapes and Seascapes, Genre Paintings, History Paintings, and Still Lifes.  There are also chapters on Dutch 17th Century Painting, the Mauritshuis and it’s expansion. It would make a great souvenir to remember these 35 beautiful paintings.

Before our trip, I downloaded the Audio Tour from iTunes.  Sophie was so cute with her ear buds in, soaking up everything from the paintings while listening to the Kids’ guide.  The guide does not include every painting, but enough that it kept Sophie interested. Sometimes though, we had to tell her to be patient while we looked at some that were not on the guide.  She really learned a lot, and even taught us a few things. We were actually looking at a still life that was not on the guide and commenting on how pretty the flowers were. Sophie told us that one of them was a cabbage rose.  She had just learned that from another painting! 

Abraham van Beyeren - Flowers Still Life with a Timepiece, 1665 (Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis The Hague) at Dutch Paintings from Mauritshuis Exhibit at de Young Museum of Fine Arts - San Francisco CA

Flower Still Life with a Timepiece by Abraham van Beyeren

Later, when I asked her what her favorite painting was, she said it was The Sick Girl by Jan Steen.  When I asked her why, she said it was funny because of Cupid and how the doctor thought she should get married.  He thought she was love sick!  She learned that from the guide, and chose it as her favorite. 

Jan Steen - The Sick Girl, 1662 (Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis The Hague) at Dutch Paintings from Mauritshuis Exhibit at de Young Museum of Fine Arts - San Francisco CA

Liam is only 3, and I was worried that he would not enjoy the exhibit. He rode in the stroller for about half of the exhibit.  We noticed that many paintings had a glare from his view, so we carried him around too. I found different ways to engage him.  Obviously, there are many things to see in the landscapes and still lifes that would interest a little boy.  On the way home I asked him what his favorite picture was, he thought about it and surprised me by saying, “the flowers and bugs.”

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I would sometimes ask Liam questions about the paintings, like in Ruisdael’s Winter Landscape.  I simply asked him if this this picture was warm or cold.  He knew it was cold.

Owly Images

Liam also liked Steen’s genre painting As the Old Sing, So Twitter the Young.  This is a very large painting, and he felt like the little girl on the right was saying “Hey!” to him. 

Jan Steen - Joyful Company, Painter's Family, 1657 at Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands

My personal favorite was The Goldfinch by Fabritius.  I should mention that except for the Girl With a Pearl Earring and the Steen painting above, you can get very close to all the other paintings.  This means you can get your eyeballs right up to it and check out the amazing details and brush strokes.  Standing so close to The Goldfinch took my breath away.  It was just beautiful! 

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There are a few paintings by Rembrandt in the exhibit.  What a great experience!

Owly Images

The last painting in the exhibit is Girl With a Pearl Earring.  We sat on the bench and talked about her with the kids.  Since they are young, any memory of this day will be fuzzy.  So I wanted to do something that would help them remember.  We talked about how someday when they are older, they can remember seeing her that day.  We talked about how pretty she was.  We joked about who she was staring at in our family.  Both kids waved at her; that was cute.  We stood near her and looked at her details.  We said goodbye to her when it was time to leave.  We bought the finger puppet in the gift shop for the kids to share.  Liam would put it on his finger and say in a silly voice, “Hi, I’m the girl with a pearl earring.”  Sophie played with it and exclaimed, “I solved the mystery! She had two earrings, but in the painting you can only see one!” 

After the exhibit, we had a picnic out in the courtyard. 


The kids were able to run around a little and act goofy.




After lunch, we went back in to look at some other exhibits.  There were a few very interesting pieces in the Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries. This piece caught our attention as well as this awesome Crochet chair.  I loved the European Art galleries.  The Renaissance art is exquisite!  Brian and kids saw their first Monet and we all saw our first Renoir!  Some other famous names there were Degas, Rodin, Matisse, and Pissarro, to name a few.

I would recommend checking out the small exhibit American Encounters: Genre Paintings and Everyday Life.  Dutch Bonus: Jan Steen’s Festive Family Meal is on loan from the Louvre and can be viewed there.

We could have spent more time at the High, but we ran out of time!  The kids were so good and actually enjoyed the museum more than I thought they would.  Liam was so tired that he fell asleep in the gift shop at the end.


The Mauritshuis exhibit is here until the 29th.  I encourage anyone who even remotely enjoys art to go and see this.  It is beyond worth the drive, parking and price of admission.  It is a stunning collection of art.   Do not miss it!  Tomorrow is actually one of the High’s Homeschool Days.  Admission is discounted and homeschoolers even get a discount in the gift shop.  But if you can’t make it tomorrow, next week would be a great time to go as they have extended hours for the final week of the exhibit. 

Thanks a bunch to Art History Mom for the tickets, we had such a wonderful time!

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