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A book lover's paradise ...
... what is not to love
Quotes of the week
A room without books is like a body without a soul.
Another week of unstable weather. The storm Otto flew in over Scandinavia and left traces behind, here on the west coast. Trains cancelled, the Öresund bridge closed and in Copenhagen they even evacuated a few houses. In the end it did some havoc but not too much. Still a grey, rainy day this Monday. A perfect time to think back on our nice holiday in Portugal. What is nicer to think about than books? I am just asking.
Livraria Lello in Porto
We missed out the bigger book shops in Lisbon, but Livraria Lello in Porto made our day. Such a fantastic shop. It is such a popular visit for tourists these days, so the owner charges you 5€ to enter the shop. It will be deducted if you purchase a book. Luckily, off season, we did not have to wait to enter inside this holy shrine for book lovers. It is difficult to describe so I leave a few photos to show you.
There are two floors, and the upper floor you reach by a beautiful stair which is a piece of art in itself. On the upper floor it was dedicated to Nobel Prize winners and at the very back, a whole room dedicated to José Saramago. On the first floor you find fiction in various languages. A book lover’s dream and we did spend some time in there.
Majestic Café Porto
There were many interesting historical buildings to see in Porto. This week I am lingering more on the present time pleasantries. After the book shop we walked over to the Majestic Café which is an old café in the style of Art Deco. Beautiful to enjoy a light lunch there. It is a popular place and even J.K. Rawlings who lived in Porto for some years, was a frequent visitor to the café. Surely, some of Harry Potter’s adventures saw their light there.
Musings this week
Book stalls in Oslo
In Oslo they use old phone booths as book stalls these days. What a wonderful idea.
Further to my last newsletter on an upcoming exhibition with Vermeer paintings, I watch a film called The Last Vermeer. It is about art pieces stolen during the war, but specifically about the fascinating story of Han van Meegeren (1889-1947) a forgery. The Vermeer painting is The Woman Taken in Adultery, which van Meegeren sold to Hermann Göring. When it was discovered van Meegeren was claiming that he painted it. It led to a trial in 1945 when he was “arrested, charged with collaborating with the enemy and imprisoned.” It turned out that he had forged several old masters which had been accepted as originals by experts. A fascinating story. “The doubts regarding international art establishment spurred by the Van Meegeren case resulted in years of a much-needed self-examination. Art historians, connoisseurs, museum directors and unscrupulous dealers had all been involved. Above all, contemporary methods of evaluating the work of master painters required a profound reconsideration.” (From Essential Vermeer 3.0., link above for more reading and the whole story).
A few quotes from the film (told by van Meegeren).
“Vermeer, Hals, Bosch live for ever, they speak to us through the centuries.”
“I imagine you have not heard of a painter named Willem Gillian Kool?”
”No, I haven’t.”
”Kool created hundreds of beautiful works, three centuries ago and not one of them are worth the canvas they are painted on.”
”I am not really interested in art history.”
”Vermeer on the other hand paints just over 30 pictures he is no/so(?) creative, each of them worth a fortune. You know why?”
”No, and I don’t care.”
”You should. You think you are investigating art but you are investigating money and power.”
“That is why merchants pay such high value on art. They get to possess their own small piece of an incorruptible soul.”
Maybe a few hints on why some paintings are so expensive.