Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Postkaart uit Delft

Just back from a week in the Low Countries.
Much occurred on the work front – lectures at the ICTY and in the Cassese series; the 2011-in-review conference at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which began with a live feed to the issuing of the Lubanga verdict at the International Criminal Court; and a hearing of the International Court of Justice in Belgium v. Senegal. Keep an eye out for future posts.
Took time for a bit of sightseeing, too – it was spring break, after all.
Well worth the visit was Delft, a well-preserved, canal-rich town just a short tram ride away from The Hague.
Delft's a bit of a touchstone for our crowd: Hugo Grotius, a parent of international law, was born there on April 10, 1583. His pre-eminence is evident in the statue of him that towers in city center (above and right).
Another native son is Jan Vermeer.
Born in the autumn of 1632, he painted lush portraits of the times – Grotius' times, too – at a Delft studio. His work is honored in Vermeer Centrum, located just to the right of the Grotius statue. For actual paintings, go to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Better yet, Mauritshuis, the Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague, home to the captivating "Girl with a Pearl Earring," inspiration for a popular novel. (At right, detail from a reproduction of Vermeer's "Woman Holding a Balance.")
Even without paintings, this interactive museum does a great job of evoking Vermeer's genius. His pigments – ground lapis lazuli, for goodness' sake – glowed. It was a treat to pose in the carefully staged and lighted set and aim the camera, thus creating our "own" Vermeer (bottom right).
After Delft, it's back on the same tram all the way in the other direction, on to Scheveningen, and decidedly not because a host of accused war criminals are in custody there. Last week Scheveningen, a North Sea beach town, was making ready for Europe's April holidays even as March winds stirred its still-chilly sands.

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