Book chest of Hugo de Groot

anonymous, c. 1600 - c. 1615, NG-KOG-1208

Traditionally, it was in this case that Hugo de Groot escaped from Loevestein Castle in 1621. He had been serving a life sentence there since 1619. The internationally renowned jurist De Groot (Grotius) had been arrested in 1618 as a political opponent of Prince Maurice. After his escape, De Groot…

Cabinet of a Militia Company

anonymous, c. 1520 - c. 1530, furniture, BK-KOG-656

Desk

Abraham Roentgen, c. 1758 - c. 1760, BK-16676

This desk has numerous secret compartments and drawers and even includes a fold-out prie-dieu. It was made for Johann Philipp von Walderdorff, archbishop and elector of Trier, and is decorated at the top with his portrait and heraldic arms. The desk is the most expensive showpiece ever made by…

Dolls’ house of Petronella Oortman

anonymous, c. 1686 - c. 1710, furniture, BK-NM-1010

The exterior of this dolls house is a work of art in its own right, with its mother-of-pearl and pewter veneer. The owners’ initials - Petronella Oortman and her husband Johannes Brandt, a cloth merchant in Amsterdam - are inlaid on both sides. Remarkably, all the domestic furnishings were made…

Diorama of a Slave Dance

Gerrit Schouten, 1830, NG-2005-24

The scene in the dance tent is a ‘du’, a role-play event with music and dancing, held once every year on the plantations. Both players and audience were slaves. The main character was the ‘Afrankeri’, the narrator, left. The man in the red suit on the right is playing the king. Europeans in Suriname…

Layette Cupboard

anonymous, c. 1660 - c. 1670, furniture, BK-1985-10

Flower, fruit and shell patterns are carved into the walnut veneer of this cupboard. It was designed to hold nappies (diapers) and babies’ clothes. Old inventories of lying-in rooms mention these cupboards. The Dutch term is: ‘luiermandskast’.

Model of the William Rex

Adriaen de Vriend, Adriaen Davidsen, Cornelis Moerman, 1698, ship model, NG-MC-651

Model of a 74-gun Dutch battleship. It was made in Vlissingen (Flushing) and displayed in the boardroom of the Zeeland navy in Middelburg. The decorative stern sports the arms of Zeeland. In fact no such ship actually existed. The name William Rex refers to William III of Orange, the Dutch…

Stadtholder’s chair

Gerrit Hutte, 1747, BK-NM-1315

Willem IV sat on this chair when he presided over the high court in The Hague. The cabinetmaker who made it, Hutte, and Van Dijck, who carved it, chose an extreme Rococo style for this ceremonial chair. The back is crowned with the arms of Zeeland, Holland and West Friesland and the embroidered…

FK 23 Bantam

Frits Koolhoven, 1918, NG-2011-1

The F.K. 23 Bantam was developed in 1917 by Dutch aviation pioneer Frederick Koolhoven, then working as chief designer at British Aerial Transport Company. The biplane was intended as a fighter for the nascent Royal Air Force in the First World War. This craft was shown in 1919 at the First Aviation…

Two temple guardians

anonymous, c. 1300 - c. 1400, AK-RAK-2007-1-B

These guards stand at the entrance to a temple to ward off evil. They are holding a vajra, with which to crush ignorance. Their open and shut mouths represent the first and last letters of the Japanese script: A and N: this symbolises the totality of sounds and letters, of knowledge. Worshippers who…