Militia Company of District II…

Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642, painting, SK-C-5

Rembrandt’s largest, most famous canvas was made for the Arquebusiers guild hall. This was one of several halls of Amsterdam’s civic guard, the city’s militia and police. Rembrandt was the first to paint figures in a group portrait actually doing something. The captain, dressed in black, is…

The Windmill at Wijk bij Duurstede

Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael, c. 1668 - c. 1670, painting, SK-C-211

Viewed from a low perspective, the mill contrasts majestically against the dark sky. The buildings further in the distance are the castle and St Maarten’s church at Wijk bij Duurstede, a major city in the Golden Age. The river in the foreground is the Lek. This is the epitome of a Dutch landscape:…

Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul

Rembrandt van Rijn, 1661, painting, SK-A-4050

Here, Rembrandt is about 55. In this portrait he represents St Paul, the apostle, identified by his usual attributes: a manuscript and a sword, of which the hilt extends from under the cloak. The self portrait is typical of Rembrandt’s late style of painting: he used the paint structure in the…

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…

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…

Portrait of Don Ramón Satué

Francisco de Goya, 1823, painting, SK-A-2963

Goya was well-known as a court-painter and for his idiosyncratic prints. He had already turned 76 when he painted this powerful portrait. Don Ramón was a judge in the highest tribunal of Castile. The casual pose and open collar have an informality Goya usually reserves for the portraits of his most…

A Militiaman Holding a Berkemeyer,…

Frans Hals, c. 1628 - c. 1630, painting, SK-A-135

This cheery young man is raising his glass as if to propose a toast. Although the fashion was then for intricate, detailed paintings, Hals applied his paints with quick, confident strokes. This style of painting gives the subject a real sense of movement. This is most obvious with the right hand.

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…

The Merry Fiddler

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

Children of the Sea

Jozef Israëls, 1872, painting, SK-A-2382

This delightful scene contains a moral. These children from a poor fishing village with their shabby clothes and broken toys, are playing out their own future. The oldest boy carries the burden of his family on his shoulders, while the boat represents the harsh life at sea. Jozef Israëls first…