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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Two D: Dutch and Flemish Art at Mauritshuis

Mauritshuis means Maurice House in English. The house originally belonged to John Maurice, the Prince of Nassau-Siegen, a province that no longer exists, and the governor of ore-rich Dutch Brazil, no doubt the source of great wealth for him.

Bartholomeus Eggers, c. 1637-1692
Bust of Johan Maurits, 1664

He built his Dutch Classicist style residence in the 1630s, the height of the Dutch Golden Age. In 1820 it was purchased by the Dutch state for the purpose of housing the royal collection of paintings.

The Maurice House, Mauritshuis, was built in the 1630s.

More than two hundred top works from Dutch and Flemish masters are on display here, some of them iconic paintings that are recognized around the world.

We had toured the museum in 2003, but since then it had been renovated and expanded. This process made news in the Bay area because while it was going on, the Mauritshuis sent out a traveling exhibition that appeared at the de Young Museum.

The museum's new extension is actually a separate building, across a narrow street. An underground passageway connects the two buildings. The new building is remarkably austere and functional.

The extension is across a narrow street but connected
with the old building by an underground passageway

In the interior, the old building's original elegance has been maintained. The old building can now be devoted completely to the display of art, since the visitor services have been off-loaded to the new building.

Hallway of the original building
A gallery in the original building has silk wall covering.
The new building is for visitor services and educational functions.

Looking down into the gift shop in the new wing.

Flemish Art


Rogier van der Weyden, 1399-1464

Van der Weyden was a very influential early Netherlandish painter.

He is credited with a relatively small number of works, most of them altarpieces.

Rogier van der Weyden, 1399-1464
The Lamentation of Christ, c. 1460

Rogier van der Weyden, 1399-1464
St. Augustine Sacrificing to a Manichaean Idol, c. 1480


Jan Brueghel I, 1568-1625

Brueghel the Elder was one of the leading Flemish painters of the early 1600s.

He was a close friend and collaborator of Peter Paul Rubens.

One of his specialties was floral still life.

Jan Brueghel I, 1568-1625
Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase, c. 1615

Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640 

Rubens was the titan of Netherlandish art in the early 1600s.

Rubens was frequently commissioned to paint large altarpieces depicting religious stories. His style for this type of work was grandiose and dramatic.

Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640
Model for the Assumption of the Virgin, c. 1625

Jan Brueghel I & Peter Paul Rubens

The two major Flemish artists of their time, Brueghel and Rubens, were friends, and sometimes they collaborated on the same painting, with each pursuing his own specialty. Rubens had an unbeatable flare for nude figures, while Brueghel had documentary accuracy on a wide range of flora and fauna.

Jan Brueghel I & Peter Paul Rubens
The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man, c. 1615

Anthony van Dyck, 1599-1641

Van Dyck  was a Flemish artist of the Baroque era who spent much of his career in England, painting portraits for the Royal house.

He was a student and apprentice of Rubens.

Anthony van Dyck, 1599-1641
Portrait of Peeter Steves, 1627

Anthony van Dyck, 1599-1641
Portrait of Anna Wake, 1628

Anthony van Dyck, 1599-1641
Portrait of Quintijn Symons, c. 1635

The major Flemish painters of the late 1500s and early 1600s were Brueghel the Elder, Rubens, and van Dyck.

Dutch Golden Age

Frans Hals, 1582-1666

Frans Hals was a great portrait artist from Haarlem. He could be formal and precise enough to satisfy the most demanding clients, or he could be casual and unpretentious.

Frans Hals, 1582-1666
Portrait of Aletta Hanemans, 1625

Frans Hals, 1582-1666
Laughing Boy, c. 1625

Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1588-1629

Ter Brugghen was one of a small group of painters based in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, who deliberately emulated the work of Caravaggio, a contemporary Italian painter. They particularly favored his naturalistic depiction of characters and his stagey lighting. Ter Brugghen, Honthorst, and others developed Caravaggio's aesthetics in a particularly Dutch manner.

Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1588-1629
The Liberation of Peter, 1624

Pieter Saenredam, 1597-1665

Saenredam was a Haarlem artist known for his depiction of church architecture.

Pieter Saenredam, 1597-1665
The Mariaplaats with the Mariakerk in Utrecht, 1659

Rembrandt, 1606-1669

The group portrait was an important genre in the 1600s, and nobody was better at it than Rembrandt. In this depiction of a group of medical specialists, he has added the dramatic focal point of a corpse, giving everyone a good reason to be looking the same way and engaging in the same activity.

Rembrandt, 1606-1669
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, 1632

Rembrandt, 1606-1669
Tronie’ of a Man with a Feathered Beret, c. 1640

Vermeer, 1632-1675

Vermeer is one of the most beloved painters of the Dutch Golden Age. He is especially known for romanticized portraits of modest young women.

Vermeer painted only a few outdoor scenes, but each one is considered a masterpiece.

Johannes Vermeer, 1632-1675
Girl with a Pearl Earring, c. 1665

Johannes Vermeer, 1632-1675
View of Delft, c. 1661

Judith Leyster, 1609-1660

Judith Leyster was a Haarlem painter who frequently emulated the style of Frans Hals with boisterous portraits of drunken carousers.

Judith could also be quite sober, and some of her paintings reflect a distinctly feminine point of view.

Judith Leyster, 1609-1660
Man Offering Money to a Young Woman, 1631

Paulus Potter, 1625-1654

Paulus Potter specialized in accurate and sympathetic portrayals of farm animals.

Paulus Potter, 1625-1654
The Bull, 1647
Mark Tansey, b. 1949,
The Innocent Eye Test, 1981

Jan Steen, 1625-1679

In addition to being an outrageously talented and highly productive painter, Jan Steen was a tavern-keeper, and he had a sort of tavern-keeper's sense of humor. He particularly liked to illustrate "old sayings," proverbs that were popular at the time. He was like a cartoonist who asks, what would that common saying look like literally?

Jan Steen, 1625-1679
As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young, c. 1665
  • In this painting Steen illustrated a proverb saying that children pick up the habits of their parents. The fashionable woman on the left, raising her glass for a refill, is based on Steen's wife, while the laughing man in the black hat teaching a child to smoke is based on himself. He frequently included his wife and himself in paintings depicting lax standards.

Jan Steen, 1625-1679
Woman Playing the Sistrum, circa 1662

Jacob van Ruisdael, 1628-1682

Van Ruisdael was one of the most influential landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

Jacob van Ruisdael, 1628-1682
View of Bentheim Castle, c. 1654

Meindert Hobbema, 1638-1709

Hobbema learned landscape painting from van Ruisdael. He made a specialty of fanciful forest scenes.

Meindert Hobbema, 1638-1709
Wooded Landscape with Cottages, c. 1665

Rachel Ruysch, 1664-1750

Rachel Ruysch specialized in floral still lifes. Considering the amount of competition in this field, it is much to her credit that she was able to make it.

Rachel Ruysch, 1664-1750
Vase of Flowers, 1700

Floral Paintings

Balthasar van der Ast, 1593-1657
Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase, with Shells, c. 1650
Dirck de Bray, c. 1635-1694
Still Life with a Bouquet in the Making, 1674
Ambrosius Bosschaert I, 1573-1621
Vase of Flowers in a Window, c. 1618
Jacob de Gheyn II, 1565-1629
Flowers in a Glass Flask, 1612
Jan Davidsz de Heem, 1606-1684
Vase of Flowers, c. 1670

Take-aways from Mauritshuis

The major Flemish painters of the late 1500s and early 1600s:
  • Brueghel the Elder
  • Rubens
  • Van Dyck
Major Painters of the Dutch Golden Age:
  • Frans Hals
  • Rembrandt
  • Vermeer
  • Jan Steen
Minor Painters of the Dutch Golden Age:
  • Ter Brugghen
  • Saenredam
  • Judith Leyster
  • Paulus Potter
  • Van Ruisdael
  • Hobbema
  • Rachel Ruysch

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