Exploring The Rijksmuseum

August 16, 2016

By Tab Byrum

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In getting to know the city of Amsterdam I knew we needed to visit the Rijksmuseum on Museum Square in the Dutch capital. The Rijksmuseum is the National Museum of Art and History for the Netherlands and holds some wonderful treasures including paintings by such artists as Van Gogh, Vermeer, and Van Dyck. The building that houses the museum was first built in 1876 with the completion of the building in 1885, over the years there have been changes made to the building with additions being added on and the hall that houses Rembrandts famous The Nights Watch being remodeled in 1906. In 2003 the main hall of the Rijksmuseum was closed for a major renovation and was reopened to the public by Queen Beatrix in 2013. Today the museum has huge spaces filled with natural light as well as rooms with gray painted walls that evoke a more somber mood, we thoroughly enjoyed the Rijksmuseum and definitely will have to go back as it was impossible to see it all on our first trip as well as fit in everything else we wanted to do. Here’s some pics from our morning jaunt through this beautiful museum, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Enjoy!!!

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The museum is full of religious artifacts, some brought from other parts of the world and some created by Dutch artists. These statues all date from between 1460 and 1480, they were done by a sculptor at a monastery in Koudewater. They depict, from left to right, St. John, St. Barbara, and St. Catherine of Alexandria. 

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I loved this display of ten statues, they were part of the decorations on a noble woman’s grave marker. At one time there well over twenty statues on the grave, these ten are all that remain. 

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This triptych was done to commemorate a married couple, the man and woman depicted on the ends. The painting is The Raising of Lazarus and was done between sometime between 1498 and 1564 by Aertgen Claesz. Aren’t the colors amazing?

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This self-portrait of Van Gogh hangs in the Rijksmuseum. 

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This is The Single Bridge at the Paleisstraat in Amsterdam by Dutch artist George Hendrick Breitner. I’m always drawn to artwork depicting a scene in the winter and this one reminded me of  works by Gustave Caillebotte.

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This is Banquet In Celebration Of The Treaty of Munster by Bartholomeus van der Helst from 1648. I was amazed at the use of bright beautiful colors in this painting. Below I’ve shared some closeups of some of the characters in the painting so you can see the amount of detail, it’s truly like looking at a photograph. 

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These three paintings depict a wealthy husband, wife, and his mother on this end. You can tell their wealth of course by the fine clothes they are wearing but also the abundance of red fabric behind them and to the right of the older woman is a single tulip in a vase representing Holland.

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Here’s a look at the light-filled atrium in one of the buildings, you can see how they’ve combined much older architecture with 21st-century architecture.

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This is a painting of British Princess Mary Stuart, there are works of art all over  Holland depicting this British Princess. Mary was the daughter of King Charles I of Great Britain and was married off to her cousin, William of Orange, at the age of 15. Together she and William would eventually rule England after being invited by British Parliament, of course we know them as William and Mary. Sadly Mary only lived to the age of 32, dying from smallpox in 1694.

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Mary Stuart was a British Princess but she was married to a Dutch King, here’s a closeup of the orange she’s holding in the above painting in recognition of her husband William of Orange. 

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The outside of the Rijksmuseum is also very impressive as are the grounds around it. If you have the chance to visit this wonderful museum take advantage of it, I’m definitely hoping to go back someday. 

All words and images
are my own.

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