«We’ve all known nights a bit like this. The ordinary preoccupations of the day recede and, away from the familiarity of home, you access unfamiliar, yet important, parts of yourself. You feel a freshness and openness to new experiences. You feel curious, unafraid and thoughtful, out there in the world at 3 am.
The artist is trying to hold on to a mood of heightened consciousness at being alone in a strange, unfamiliar, beautiful world. We feel (as we didn’t during the bustling hours of the day), how odd it is to be alive and how peculiar it is to walk this earth. The majesty of the evening may prompt what could be called a religious impulse. This isn’t a desire to join an established religion, but to ﬁnd some way of expressing the strange, and powerful, conjunction of an awareness of our own isolation and fragility and — at the same time — our intense love of the beauty of the cosmos. It is an impulse that religions have taken seriously (although they have often interpreted it in unfortunate ways). It is a mood that we all know but generally neglect. We don’t go there enough; we leave it to chance. We should be more strategic and set up the opportunity: ‘There’s a bright moon tomorrow, let’s go for a walk by the river at 11.15 in the evening’.
The picture bottles the mood and helps us remember it (getting the postcard might quickly return us to it). It makes it communicable: in the future you might be able to say, I had a Van der Neerish experience — and a friend who had seen the picture would understand.»
— «Art is Therapy» Rijksmuseum accompanying book via Sustainable pace