What is it with the Rijksmuseum and writers?

What is it with the Rijksmuseum and writers?

Donna Tartt’s footsteps on the streets of Amsterdam are still fresh and already the next celebrity writer has made his way to the Dutch capital. Dan Brown made a much-hyped appearance, complete with press conference, in the Rijksmuseum. He stole the show apparently – according to the journalist of the Amsterdam headquartered national daily Parool who later accused the author of receiving a prize for his latest novel Inferno ‘as if it was the Nobel Prize for Literature’. Personally, I attribute such judgement to professional envy.

It was Brown’s first public visit to the Netherlands but if you read between the lines of the other newspaper reports, he’s been in Clogg-land many a time – his wife is apparently a fierce admirer of Frisian horses. I think I would be too if I were married to a bestselling author. A Frisian horse tremendously big and has black hair creating an overall awe-inspiring impression. These days the horses sell for extortionate amounts of money. 

The Rijksmuseum is a source of inspiration for many artists, not least painters and writers. Of the later breed, Salman Rushdie too sought inspiration in the ‘Rijks’, as the Dutch so tenderly refer to their Rijksmuseum. Rushdie went potty over the tiny doll’s houses and writes an extraordinary account of them in his book Fury. 

‘Rijks’, by the way, refers to the state, but is, incidentally, almost a pun for ‘rich’, which in Dutch is ‘rijk’. That’s apt too, as Dutch art of course saw its heydays in the 17th century, the so called Golden Age – also almost a literal reference to affluence.   

But back to Dan Brown. The question everyone will ask is ‘when’s the next book out?’ Brown however sensibly stuck to his policy of not saying a word about a work in progress during the press conference in the Rijks’ library room. He did however speak a little about what inspires him and rated the library room ‘a great decor for a scene…’ so in case you read about the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum’s library, you heard about it here first!  

It’s not only the famous celebrities that seek inspiration in the Rijks. Travel writers heap praise on the place too and only last year, the Rijksmuseum won the prestigious British Guild of Travel Writers Award late last year.  

So you could do worse than pay the museum a visit when you are staying in an Amsterdam Apartment pad. The current Frank Auerbach show pretty much follows the same artist-finds-inspiration theme, exhibiting paintings of this British artist who was inspired by Rembrandt’s paintings. I wrote a separate city guide about that, which you can read here.