From Vermeer to Vrel: 12 great things to do in February

Jacobus Vrel, Vrouw on a stool, looking at a child. Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt collection

Unless you have been staying on Mars for the last couple of months it cannot have escaped your attention that the hottest ticket in town is the one for Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum. But despair not, those of you who did not manage to prebook, there are plenty of other gems on offer in February

See some old masters that are not Vermeer
The Hermitage is presenting 35 paintings from the Leiden Collection in New York. The private collection consists of works by Rembrandt and his contemporaries, all of whom worked in Rembrandt’s native city.

Rembrandt van Rijn, Bust of an Old Man with Beart (1633). © The Leiden Collection

Artists include Pieter Lastman, Carel Fabritius, Arent de Gelder, Jan Lievens, Gerrit Dou, Frans van Mieris and Jan Steen. The unifying theme of the exhibition is history painting, a much prized genre in 17th century painting. Fun fact: it also includes Rembrandt’s tiniest painting Bust of a Bearded Old Man which measures 10.6 by 7.2 centimetres. From February 4. Website

Give them some air
If you want to give Ukrainians some breathing space, go spend some money on Ukrainian fashion, food and other cultural offerings during the three day Lucht pop up at the Pelgrimskerk in Buitenveldert in Amsterdam. Small scale production of fashion and other items is continuing despite unrelenting bomb threats. The proceeds will be going to United24, a charity which is providing humanitarian and medical help. February 10, 11 an 12. Website

Take your pic
There are pics old and new at the international photography fair Haute Photographie in Rotterdam, with work by  Schilte & Portielje, Kevin Osepa, Jonas Bjerre Poulsen, Marcus Schaefer, Sara Punt and new talents Sam Warnaar and Asha Swillens.  Fashion, travel, food and cats make up this year’s exhibits but there’s also room for some vinatge pics of Willem van Hanegem and the late lamented André Hazes. Haute Photographie is on from February 8 to 12. Website

Check out another JV
Still smarting from the temporary loss of The Girl with the Pearl Earring, the Mauritshuis in The Hague has shifted its focus to an equally mysterious predecessor of Vermeer, an artist named Jacobus Vrel (active between 1640 and 1660), whose subject matter resembled Vermeer’s and some of whose works were even fraudulently signed Vermeer. Vrel, forerunner of Vermeer is on from February 16. Website 

Jacobus Vrel, Vrouw on a stool, looking at a child. Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt collection

See Van Dongen’s portraits
‘I’ll be famous one day, see if I won’t,’ a young Kees van Dongen famously said and he made good on his promise. The Singermuseum in Laren is hosting an exhibition of the artist’s immediately recognisable, colourful, sultry eyed women, works which put him on a par with such illustrious contemporaries as Picasso, Matisse and Braque. Until May 7. Website

Be someone’s  Valentine
Beelden aan Zee in the dunes at Scheveningen is combining art with healthy commerce by offering its exhibition Garden of Delights as a decor for a romantic dinner for two on Valentine’s Day. The Baroque and botanical shapes of Austrian artist Elmar Trenkwalder are meant to whet al sorts of appetites but at €140 for two it doesn’t come cheap. February 14. Website

Score some weed in Scheveningen
Weed – no, not that kind of weed – is the name of an exhibition at the Muzee in Scheveningen and it’s all about sea weed. The first offshore sea weed test farm is just 12 kilometres away and there is really very little that this stuff won’t do. Its many uses include energy, food, agriculture, and art, and all are on display at the Muzee until June 25. Website

Get reckless with the merry wives
The Reckless Shakespeare Company has a simple premise: serious actors, no director, one rehearsal.  So you know what you’re letting yourself in for. This time the reckless ones are tackling the Merry Wives of Windsor, just as the real Windsor wives are regrouping. At Mike’s Badhuistheater in Amsterdam on February 24 and 25. Website

Meet Adam
English language theatre company STET is presenting three performances of Removed, by Irish playwright Fionnuala Kennedy. The play tells the story of Adam who grows up in the youth care system of Belfast. Adam is a care system Everyman, put together from the sometime harrowing experiences of many young people who have been taken into care. February 17, 18 and 19. Website

Peruse the pictures of Piet
Painter Piet Mondrian knew a picture paints a thousand words, including photographs of the artist himself. The Fotomuseum Den Haag has brought together 70 photographs by distinguished photographers such André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy, Cas Oorthuys en Arnold Newman linking the way he has been portrayed with the artist’s development, first in the Netherlands, then Paris and finally in London and New York.

 Piet Mondriaan, April 1909. Photo: Alfred Waldenburg, collectie RKD

Mondrian is often seen as a bit of a misery guts but the exhibition has also unearthed a number of never before seen private snaps which show him to be as jolly as the next man. Strike a Pose is on until May 21. Website

Find pout what Van Eeghen did for Amsterdam
The Stadsarchief in Amsterdam puts wealthy and yet idealistic businessman Piet van Eeghen (1816-1889) in the spotlights. His vision and cash transformed the capital. We have him to thank for the Vondelpark, for instance, social housing and the then state of the art Prinsengrachtziekenhuis. Documents and photos of the time illustrate what Van Eeghen did for Amsterdam and what his motives were. Until March 12. Website.

Find nog meer Vermeer
Oh, did we mention the quite important exhibition of no fewer than 28 of Vermeer’s 37 known works at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam? Museums from all over the world have parted with their Vermeers to make this unique gathering of his paintings possible. It’s hard to banish thoughts of a historical Vermeer heist while they’re all-in one place, and the subsequent film, but let’s not go there. Vermeer is on from February 20 to June 4. Website

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