The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is undergoing the biggest rebuilding, renovation and modernisation programme in its history. During this period the finest 17th century works in the museum will continue to be on display in the redesigned Philips Wing. This exhibition, under the title ‘The Masterpieces’, provides an opportunity to see the highlights of the Golden Age – more than 400 masterpieces of many art forms – together in surprising combinations.
The famous dolls’ houses, the finest Delftware, a wealth of silver, icons of Dutch history and of course the paintings by the great masters of the 17th century, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Vermeer and Rembrandt, have a temporary new home in the Philips Wing. For many of these works this will be the first time that they have left their place in the Rijksmuseum. Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’, for example, has rarely left the main building designed by Pierre Cuypers since it opened in 1885.
The miracle of the Golden Age: wealth, trade and burghers
‘The Masterpieces’ is arranged according to distinctive themes. Central to this presentation is the story of the miracle of the Golden Age: the sudden and unprecedented rise in the prosperity and power of the young Republic of the Seven United Provinces; its leading international role as a trading nation, and the important position within it of the burghers. Historical icons such as Johan van Oldenbarnevelt’s cane, the book chest in which Grotius escaped from prison, the stern decoration from the captured English warship, the ‘Royal Charles’ and models of the imposing tombs of the admirals Maarten Tromp and Michiel de Ruyter are a few of the many objects which illustrate the themes.
Paintings such as the great seascapes by Willem van de Velde, the portraits of Prince Maurice and King-Stadholder William III and the many views of distant and exotic places, give a picture of the remarkable role the Netherlands played in the world in the 17th century.
The 17th-century interior, Delftware and painting
Exceptional growth and quality was not limited to politics and economics. Dutch painting and decorative arts took on a character of their own in the 17th century and attained great heights.
The famous dolls’ houses inlaid with tortoiseshell owned by Petronella Oortman and Petronella Dunois reflect the richness of the 17th-century interior. The splendid silver treasure chamber in the Philips Wing uses work by such celebrated silversmiths as Lutma and the Van Vianen brothers among others to show how this field became one of the fine arts in the Golden Age. The renowned Delftware is presented in the context of the royal patrons King-Stadholder William III and Maria Stuart, both great lovers of this ware.
The masterpieces by the great 17th-century painters are arranged according to such themes as early landscape, genre pieces, the Delft school and early and late Rembrandt. Fifteen works by Rembrandt and all four paintings by Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum collection are on display. As well as Rembrandt and Vermeer there are perennial favourites such as ‘Winter landscape’ by Hendrick Avercamp, ‘The Merry Family’ by Jan Steen, the ‘Marriage Portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen’ by Frans Hals, ‘The Mill at Wijk van Duursted’ by Jacob van Ruisdael and ‘River landscape with riders’ by Aelbert Cuyp. As the climax, the last room contains Rembrandt’s greatest masterpiece, ‘ The Night Watch’.
The design of ‘The Masterpieces’ in the Philips Wing
Interior architect Eveline Merkx, of the Merkx + Girod office, designed the new presentation. She had earlier designed the exhibition ‘The Glory of the Golden Age’ (shown in the year 2000), and was responsible for the interior restoration of the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. For the presentation of ‘The Masterpieces’ in the Philips Wing, subdued colours and transparent display cases have been chosen. A striking feature of the design is the splendid decoration of the walls – satin –finish patterns inspired by 17th-century damask. Visitors will shortly be able view the display following a clearly marked route which takes into account the capacity of the Philips Wing. The aim is to enable as many people as possible to enjoy these treasures of 17th century art.
adults aged 19 and over: 17,50 EUR
children under 19y: free
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