The Rijksmuseum or National Museum is the largest and most prestigious museum for art and history in the Netherlands, displaying works by Dutch masters such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Steen.
The Rijksmuseum or National Museum is the largest and most prestigious museum for art and history in the Netherlands, displaying works by Dutch masters such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Steen. Founded in The Hague in 1800 as the National Art Gallery and then moved to Amsterdam in 1808, the initial exhibits were from the collections of Dutch stadtholders. It has grown to a collection of 1 million artifacts and paintings from 1200 AD, out of which 8000 are on display. The best collection is from the Golden Age of Dutch Art from 1620 to 1680 AD. Highlights include Vermeer's The Milkmaid, Rembrandt's The Night Watch and Steen's The Merry Family. It is an absolute essential part of any itinerary and the highlight of any trip to Amsterdam.
- The ground floor houses the collection from the Middle Ages and Renaissance (12th to 16th centuries), as well as the Special Collections of eclectic objects including Delftware, music, fashion & jewellery, Dutch porcelain, patriotic relics, arms, and ship models. The Middle Ages and Renaissance collection explores the transition from Christian religious art to the renewed interest in Classical Antiquity. Highlights of this collection include ✓paintings by Geertgen tot Sint Jans and Fra Angelico, ✓Van Scorel’s Mary Magdalene (1530), ✓Renier’s figurines of Ten Weepers from the tomb of Isabella of Bourbon (1475), ✓Van Oostsanen’s Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (1524) who was decapitated by Herod and Landscape with Bathsheba (1545), ✓Mostaert’s The Adoration of the Magi (1525) set in the ruins of King David’s palace, ✓Durer’s Adam en Eva (1504), ✓Beuckelaer’s The Well Stocked Kitchen (1566) which exhorts against giving in to earthly temptations, and the ✓Gothic Cabinet of a militia company (1530) which is considered one of the finest pieces of 16th century furniture in the world.
One of the most remarkable displays here is the Grandfather Clock by Maarten Baas, a thought-provoking digital work on the awareness of time.
- The first floor houses the collection from the 18th and 19th centuries. The 18th century collection showcases Dutch refinement in interior décor of the times, with ✓Troost’s Portrait of a Member of the Van der Mersch Family (1736) and Self Portrait (1739), ✓silver wine fountain and cooler by Mensma (1732), ✓portraits of William IV (1751) and William V (1789), ✓Vanmour’s Wedding Procession on the Bosphorus (1737), ✓Blue Macaw from porcelain manufactory Meissen, ✓objects and portraits from The Netherlands Overseas, ✓Amsterdam Period Room which has the Overdoor with Representation of Two Reclining Women with Garlands (1786) by Andriessen, ✓Roengen’s magnificent Writing Desk, ✓Falconet’s Seated Cupid (1757), and several Dutch paintings and prints. Of particular note is the Haarlem Period Room of 1794, built and furnished for Willem Philip Kops, merchant and art collector. The chimney-piece was from Italy, the carpet from the Flemish city of Tournai, the furniture from Amsterdam, the silk hangings and upholstery from Lyon in France, and the glass chandelier and candelabra from England, but all elements blend together harmoniously to create an atmosphere of elegant grandeur.
The 19th century collection exhibits scientific progress in the Netherlands with the standard metric measures enforced by Napolean, as well as prints and art from the time. There are ✓works by Goya such as Portrait of Don Ramón Satué (1823) and The One against the Other, ✓Van Gogh’s Self Portrait (1887), Carafe and Dish with Citrus Fruit (1887), and Undergrowth (1887) as well as important works from Amsterdam Impressionism by Breitner and Israels, Romanticism-inspired paintings by Troostwijk and Koekkoek, and Historicism-inspired objects such as the Etruscan Vase (1858) from the Sevres manufactory and silver tea urn (1845) by Charles Odiot.
- The collection on the second floor covers the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, when Holland led the world in trade, science, military, art and culture. Works on display include ✓Portrait of Prince William of Orange (1579) by Key, ✓Mannerism-style works such as Bloemaert’s The Preaching of Saint John the Baptist (1610) and Spranger’s Venus and Adonis (1590), ✓Flemish art such as Avercamp’s Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters, ✓exquisite household objects including a Diana on a Stag table automaton, a 1.56 metre high porcelain flower pyramid from De Metaale Pot, and beautifully crafted silver from townhouses.
There are works by Rembrandt such as Portrait of Maria Trip, Musical Company, and a couple of self-portraits, with the highlight of the floor being the Nachtwacht or Night Watch (1642). The Eregalerij or Gallery of Honor leading to it has 17th century masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Steen, Hals and others in alcoves framed by beams inscribed with their names. The 3.6 metre x 4.4 metre Night Watch is the most famous painting of the era, portraying the Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. The painting was coated with a dark varnish which gave an impression of night time, but the rays of sunlight confirm it is day.
- The third floor houses 20th century works, from Art Nouveau furniture to Yves Saint Laurent and even an FK 23 Bantam fighter plane that was designed for World War I. See ✓YSL’s Mondrian Dress inspired by the eponymous artist, ✓Rietveld’s Red and Blue Chair that is quintessential De Stilj, ✓Appel’s The Square Man, ✓Constant’s Ruimtecircus (Space Circus) from the New Babylon series, and ✓Art Nouveau porcelain.
There is an Asian Pavilion annexed to the main building, which houses Asian art from China, Japan, India and South East Asia dating between 2000 BC and 2000 AD. Highlights include ✓a 12th century Shiva Nataraja bronze from India, ✓9th century andesite Bodhisattva Manjushri from Indonesia, ✓2 14th century wooden temple guardians from Japan, and ✓a 12th century Guanyin from China.