Ruth Leon recommends … The Sick Child – Rijksmuseum

Ruth Leon recommends … The Sick Child – Rijksmuseum


norman lebrecht

June 11, 2021

The Sick Child – Rijksmuseum
Click here to watch : Free
Friso Lammertse, curator of 17th century Dutch art at Amsterdam’s Rijsmuseum, talks movingly about this painting by one of the lesser known masters in his care, Gabriel Metsu’s The Sick Child. I’m struck by this curator’s personal warmth and sympathy for the mother and child in the painting and by the connection he draws between her despair and the current fear faced by us all in the current health situation.

​Our access to the experts who work with these works of art every day, know them and love them, is for me one of the few advantages of our lockdowns. Under normal circumstances, we can go to the museums, see the paintings, even read about them, but we don’t meet the curators. To hear these art historians talk about their charges with intimacy and knowledge is a tremendous plus. The Rijksmuseum does this particularly well in these very short talks.
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  • John Borstlap says:

    Historic research has revealed that the child got unwell after visiting an exhibition about diversity in the Republic.

    • David says:

      Hi, may I ask why you had the urge to politicize in an snarky manner a beautiful story about a painting? I’m just really curious why so many people are more keen on finding enemies everywhere, when in fact, that kind of life must be so exhausting and sad.

      • John Borstlap says:

        The painting does not invite at all any reference to the current pandemic. That is an attempt to invite interest which otherwise could not care less about art and I think it is wrong and unnecessary.

        • David says:

          How do you think it is wrong and unnecessary? In other words, what determines goodness and necessity in your view?

          I personally think there is nothing wrong to invite the viewers to see works of art from different perspectives. You may not relate, or even reject certain perspectives, but it can nevertheless broaden our scope of appreciation. The curator is not sensationalizing this work out of proportion, and if the museum wanted to profit off of Corona, they would have chosen a much more well known artist, or create an exhibition in itself.

          Here, the curator is inviting us to bring our experiences of vulnerability during this pandemic and our reflections on the fragility of daily life to the painting. It is a way in which we get a better glimpse into what being sick means, and what it means to continue to have hope amidst uncertainty. Was this child destined to recover? What is the signification of the child’s direct gaze at the viewer?

          Lastly, even if you do disagree with what I say above, I would still invite you to question whether promoting conflict by commenting on everything and anything in a political manner to be productive. I think we all have much more in common than differences, and we should strive to connect rather than to antagonize each other.

      • Hayne says:

        Simmer down…