A Mother Delousing her Child’s…

Pieter de Hooch, c. 1658 - c. 1660, painting, SK-C-149

A mother is inspecting her child’s hair for lice. They are in a sober Dutch interior, with Delft blue tiles and a bedstead. The chair on the right is a children’s toilet, with a built-in chamber pot. Through the door we see the back room, and catch a glimpse of the garden. These views into the…

Floral Still Life

Hans Bollongier, 1639, painting, SK-A-799

While this ample bouquet appears quite natural, tulips, anemones, roses and carnations all have different seasons. Yet Bollongier combined them into a harmonious composition. This still life was painted following the financial collapse of 1637, when many lost their fortunes speculating in tulip…

A Pelican and other Birds near a…

Melchior d'Hondecoeter, c. 1680, painting, SK-A-175

Melchior d’Hondecoeter specialised in depicting birds. Here he painted a pelican, various ducks, a cassowary (left), a flamingo and an African crested crane. D’Hondecoeter was commissioned to paint the work by Stadholder William III and his wife Mary. It was intended for Het Loo palace, where…

Blue Macaw

Meissener Porzellan Manufaktur, 1731, BK-17496

German scientists discovered the ingredients of Chinese porcelain in the 18th century. Elector August the Strong was such a fan of this hard, translucent white material that he filled his Japanese Palace in Dresden with porcelain objects. In the 1730s, he had a series of large birds and animals…

The Singel Bridge at the…

George Hendrik Breitner, 1898, painting, SK-A-3580

Breitner often took photos when preparing a painting. Several preparatory photos for this painting are also known. The way the woman is walking directly towards us and the way the picture is cropped gives it a photographic feel. Originally, Breitner’s subject was a maid, but following the negative…

The Well-stocked Kitchen, with…

Joachim Bueckelaer, 1566, painting, SK-A-1451

It is not the profusion of vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry and kitchenware displayed here by these housemaids that forms the main theme of this painting. It is Jesus visiting Mary and Martha, shown almost as an aside in the distance. The contrast between foreground and background contains the moral…

The Battle of Waterloo

Jan Willem Pieneman, 1824, painting, SK-A-1115

Emperor Napoleon met his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This painting – the largest at the Rijksmuseum – shows the moment when the tide turned: the British general Wellington hears that the Prussian army is approaching. Victory, and an end to twenty years of war, is at hand. The…

Portraits of Giuliano and Francesco…

Piero di Cosimo, 1482 - 1485, painting, SK-C-1368

This diptych shows a leading Florentine architect, Giuliano da Sangallo with his late father Francesco, also an architect and a musician. These are early examples of portraits in which the subject’s profession plays a key role. Here a pen and dividers suggest architecture, a melody in note form…

Interior of the Sint-Odulphuskerk…

Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, 1649, painting, SK-C-217

Once a Catholic church, St Odulphus’s passed into Protestant hands at the start of the Dutch Revolt against Spain. The artist shows a service taking place. Worshippers are listening to the preacher on the right in the pulpit. Sermons are the main feature of a Protestant service. Saenredam came…

The Seven Works of Mercy

Master of Alkmaar, 1504, painting, SK-A-2815

A town in Holland is the setting for a narrative strip showing how a good Christian should help the needy. In almost all the scenes, Christ appears among the onlookers. The scenes give a sense of town life around 1500. This is one of the many art works severely damaged when Protestants cleansed…