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Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hals at the Frick

Last Sunday, I got up early and went to the Frick. I stood outside and, after a couple of hours’ queuing, I went in.


The Girl with the Pearl Earring only really made me feel one thing: fearful radiance.



I very much liked Hals’s portrait of Jacob Pietersz Olycan. The hand is incredible. And his arrogant, slightly weary expression.



I spent a long time looking at Rembrant’s Tronie of Man With Feathered Cap. I found it fascinating that, the more I stared at the area around the right eye, the side of the nose and the nostril, the more realistic it became. It just seemed to come more and more into focus.



But my favourite, by a long chalk, was Rembrandt’s Susana. He has done two paintings of the subject. In this one, the lustful Babylonian elders are not pictured, because, as Susana’s gaze makes clear, we are them.


Her eyes are horrified, which makes it all the more awful. The whole moment seems to be paused like a memory, everything stopped: her hand wringing out her hair, her jewellery glinting hyperreal, the half-contorted thumb of the hand that is moving to cover her body.



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