A Windmill on a Polder Waterway,…

Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël, c. 1889, painting, SK-A-1505

‘Our country is colourful, juicy, fat. (...) I repeat, our country is not dull, not even in dull weather, the dunes are not dull either’, Constant Gabriël wrote in a letter. Unlike many artists of the Hague School, he preferred painting fine summer days. Here there are two: the grass, sky and…

The Sick Child

Gabriël Metsu, c. 1664 - c. 1666, painting, SK-A-3059

A worried mother looks at her young daughter, slumped listlessly on her lap. Metsu chose an unusual subject, since depictions of poorly children are rare in 17th-century art. Perhaps he intended the mother to personify charity, Caritas. Then the picture of the Crucifixion on the wall would be a…

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…

Seated Cupid

Étienne-Maurice Falconet, 1757, BK-1963-101

This famous statue already had many nicknames in the 18th century. Perhaps the best known is l’amour menaçant - menacing love. The menace is mainly in the love god’s expression, while his gesture makes us complicit, through silence. The statue was carved for Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV…

Portrait of a Woman, Possibly Maria…

Rembrandt van Rijn, 1639, painting, SK-C-597

Maria Trip, daughter of one of Amsterdam’s wealthiest merchants, was twenty when Rembrandt painted her portrait. The artist placed Maria against a stone arch and devoted particular attention to the reflected light, the fashionable dress and jewellery. The costly garments are trimmed with strips of…

The Merry Fiddler

Gerard van Honthorst, 1623, painting, SK-A-180

Banquet at the Crossbowmen’s Guild…

Bartholomeus van der Helst, 1648, painting, SK-C-2

Civic guards were the city’s militia. They were volunteers. In Amsterdam, each district had its own company with its own headquarters. In the 17th century, larger and grander buildings were built. Group portraits of the members lined the walls. In 1648, Van der Helst immortalised this Amsterdam…

Javaanse hoffunctionarissen

anonymous, c. 1820 - c. 1870, painting, NG-2010-41

Clothes make the man, so too in Indonesia. These are not actual portraits, but types. In addition to revealing the region these men come from, the meticulously painted clothes and batik motifs also provide information about their rank and status. These proud, confident figures are unusual: in…

Italian Landscape with Umbrella…

Hendrik Voogd, 1807, painting, SK-A-4688

Voogd was known as the Dutch Claude, after the French painter Claude Lorrain, who was famous for his historical landscapes bathed in a golden glow. Voogd depicted the garden at Villa Borghese in Rome late in the afternoon: the sun casts long shadows and the trees stand out starkly against the sky.…

Square Man

Karel Appel, 1951, painting, SK-A-5002

The square man squeezes with difficulty into this square canvas. He seems to squint slightly with his red and green eyes and his blue mouth gapes open. The head is too big, the body is too small, and the arms and legs are too short, yet with his fiercely coloured body and his ponderous genitals, he…