Last week I was in Washington D.C. for work. Fortunately, I had time to visit a few museums while I was there, including the National Gallery, which is a great museum. I had been to two of them before. I really enjoyed visiting them again soon enough to remember what I had liked before and what I wanted to see again.

Now that I’ve been to Belgium and saw an exhibit about Dutch and Flemish painters, I was particularly interested in seeing the Gallery’s Dutch and Flemish Cabinet Galleries. When I was there in 2009, I was interested in a female Dutch painter, Judith Leyster. Initially, I thought it would be nice to see her work again, but the exhibit has changed since then. While I certainly like her work, the new stuff was also great.

Perhaps my favorite this time was Dutch painter Abraham De Verwer’s “View of Hoorn” from about 1650:

I love the color palette, the browns and oranges, and the painting’s overall simplicity. Here’s part of what the museum’s web site says about the painting:

In this atmospheric painting, Abraham de Verwer has depicted the Dutch city of Hoorn from the south, the view that greeted ships as they sailed the Zuiderzee toward this important port that served as a major center for trade to the Baltic, the West Indies, and the East Indies. From De Verwer’s low and distant vantage point, Hoorn’s distinctive city profile is barely distinguishable. To the right of the three-masted sailing ship in the distance is the tower of the massive structure at the harbor’s entrance. The towers of the city’s Noorderkerk (North Church), Grote Kerk (Great Church), and Oosterkerk (East Church) are just visible above the buildings lining the harbor and the masts of ships moored within it, all of which De Verwer silhouetted in muted browns against the gray sky.

It’s a relatively simple painting visually, but I think it’s absolutely lovely. Dutch painting seems rather staid and somber. This painting represents that tendency beautifully.

(more…)