Rembrandt, Fondue, and bicycling to a beach picnic in Holland – Susan Ross Evans – Belgium & Netherlands 1976

It was the sesquicentennial summer of 1976 when I began my Fulbright adventure in Brussels. My scholarship involved immersion in the art history of Belgium and the Netherlands. In Belgium there were wonderful lectures by noted art historians and trips from Brussels to historic towns like Ghent to see the Van Eyck altar piece, Brugge to see the Michelangelo Madonna, and Antwerp for Reubens, Then on to Amsterdam. More lectures, museums, and trips to the Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. From Vermeer and Rembrandt, to Mondrian and Escher, we saw so much, learned more, and ate like royalty! One night we were invited to meet at a home that allegedly contained a painting by Rembrandt that had been in a private collection for years. There, Rembrandt scholar, Professor Robert Haak enlisted our opinions on what we thought about the authenticity of the painting. Was it actually painted by Rembrandt himself, or, his school of students and apprentices. After examining the painting and discussing all the possibilities, we concluded that the painting was definitely in his style, but contained too many questionable details. I have since searched for that painting in published Rembrandt collections, but never found it. So, our conclusion must have been correct. It was never credited as an authentic Rembrandt.

On the final weekend before we all headed home, two of us were selected from our group to spend with a family on the island of Texel, just off the northern coast of Holland. We took a ferry over where we met the family who then drove us to their home in the country. They had invited a German friend to share a wonderful meal of Fondue with us. We exchanged conversations in English, German and Dutch while dipping our forks in the Fondue pot. The next day we packed a lunch and all got on bicycles, including the two small children, and toured the dunes, dikes, and a small town along the beautiful seashore. We picnicked on the beach, then headed back. Our host had once visited the U.S. on a scholarship and stayed with a family. He wanted to reciprocate a similar experience for us. We were very grateful.

Susan Ross Evans – Fulbright to Belgium & Netherlands 1976

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