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Explosion Spanish ship at the battle of Gibraltar Whether it concerns a guided tour in the Rijksmuseum or in the Mauritshuis or a city tour in Delft, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Gouda – the Eighty Years' War is most likely to be mentioned during all of them. Not only because this Dutch struggle for freedom took so long, but also because of its fundamental importance for the national identity of the country - then and now. The so called Wilhelmus still is the national anthem of the Netherlands, praising the important leader of the Eighty Years' War: William Price of Orange, called William the Silent. Under this William of Orange, the northern provinces of the Netherlands fought themselves free of catholic Spanish rule to become a protestant republic. He is still adores as "Father of the Fatherland". 

From October 12, 2018 to January 20, 2019, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam devotes a comprehensive special exhibition to this so important period of Dutch history. The occasion? This Dutch Revolt started 450 years ago, in 1568. The Eighty Years' War was a conflict that spanned several generations and only ended in 1648, when with the Peace Treaty of Münster, the Dutch Republic was officially recognized as a sovereign state. 

The Dutch Revolt - an exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

Much happened during these 80 years. The conflict was about religion, but also about privileges of the nobility. The fight took place on land and sea, after all, Spain as well as the Netherlands were trying to gain supremacy over the oceans of the world. Many people lost their lives during this war, or at least their homes. Countless people fled their homes. The thousands upon thousands of refugees who left the Spanish and catholic southern provinces and came to Holland have made very significant contributions to the economic boom that developed in the Dutch Republic, bringing wealth and prosperity to many. 

Lucy Percy, Anthony van Dyck, 1637High Society – this is the title of a great exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in this year's spring and summer season – literally! In this show we can admire a selection of life size and full length portraits in the Rijksmuseum's Philips Wing.
The acquisition in 2016 of Rembrandt van Rijn's only large full length portraits was the occasion for this special exhibition: Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. Both portraits were acquired by the states of the Netherlands and France together in a joint purchase. During the recent months, the paintings have been thoroughly cleaned and restored in the Rijksmuseum's restoration studio. In the current exhibition, both works are now surrounded by other life size portraits of similar monumentality, dating from the centuries before and after Rembrandt created his masterpieces. 

The exhibition High Society gathers a choice of portraits in full length from international collections. In contrast to many other special exhibitions in this country, it is not limited to Dutch art. So we can admire highlights of Italian, German and English portrait painting – not only by famous artists like Lucas Cranach, Veronese, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Reynolds or Munch. We also find works by painters that are less known to the larger audience. In the case of two portrait paintings by the hand of Paolo Veronese, it has even been possible to re-unite a whole family. While mother Livia da Porto Thiene and her daughter belong to the collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, the painting with the portrait of her husband Iseppo da Porto and their son are at home in the Uffizi in Florence. Now in the Rijksmuseum, all four of them are joint again next to each other on the same wall. Among those who were portrayed, we encounter representatives of European (higher) nobility as well as proud Dutch citizens and military commanders, famous beauties and exotic appearances, a gynecologist with the reputation of a womanizer, a slave owner, virtuous (and less virtuous) wives, a femme fatale, an author and the director of a factory.

Meagre Company by Frans Hals and Pieter Codde If you book a Kukullus tour in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam for the coming weeks, be prepared for a few unusual treats. Not only will a special guest of honour be explained to you, Lucas van Leyden 's Last Judgment, a huge altar piece, which is currently on loan in the Gallery of Honour - one of the highlights of Renaissance painting in the Netherlands.


For a while, you will also be able to witness how very specialized research is being conducted on a group portrait by Frans Hals and Pieter Codde. The "Meager Company" is scrutinized carefully: A high-tech X-ray machine scans every millimetre of the painting. This will hopefully enable the experts to find out how exactly this painting was created by the hands of two quite different artists of the 17th century.


Van Gogh ear on self portraitVincent van Gogh was ill. We knew that. But what kind of illness he suffered from, now is the subject of a special exhibition in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, with the latest insights into subjects as madness and genius, disease pattern, cure and companions. Its title is “On the Verge of Insanity" and it is on show from July 15th to September 25th 2016.

What were the symptoms of his illness and what did his doctors report about his condition? It is questions like these that the exhibition is devoted to. Apart from paintings and drawings by Vincent van Gogh, also original documents and letters are on display. The portrait of Doctor Félix Rey, on loan from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, represents a special highlight of the show. Probably the most spectacular item is a little pistol. Of this weapon we can assume that it is the one Vincent van Gogh used on July 27th 1890 in his attempt to take his life. It was discovered some years ago already and identified as possibly the pistol used by Vincent and can now be seen in a showcase in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. A rusty piece of metal on its way to become a relic.

Meet Rembrandt and his work in Amsterdam

Oopjen Coppit Rembrandt RijksmuseumMarten Soolmans, Rembrandt van Rijn, Rijksmuseum Starting July 2nd, 2016, you can admire Marten and Oopjen in the Rijksmuseum. These two large portraits by Rembrandt van Rijn were acquired in a joint effort by the state of the Netherlands and the French republic and will be shown alternately in the Louvre in Paris and in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit were a young married couple that Rembrandt portrayed in 1634, when he had just moved from Leiden to Amsterdam, where he continued his already promising career. Marten Soolmans was the son of a migrant who came to the Dutch Republic from Antwerp, and the affluent bride Oopjen was the daughter of a merchant in grain and gunpowder. 

In future, the portraits will be on show in turns in the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. But before they will return to France, a restoration will take place, to be performed by the experts of the Rijksmuseum's restoration studio. Prior to this, these two impressive paintings will be on display in the Rijksmuseum. In fact, you will find them in the prestigious Night Watch Gallery.

Anish Kapoor Rijksmuseum, Internal Object in Three Parts, detailUnusual sights in the Gallery of Honour, the most exclusive museum room in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Since 27 November 2015, three large works of art by the British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor disrupt the harmony of masterful 17th century paintings that populate the long hall in the heart of the Rijksmuseum, normally reserved for great Dutch masters like Vermeer, Rembrandt, Frans Hals and companions.

With Internal Object in Three Parts, Anish Kapoor created works of art that look like slaughtered animals (or worse), made of silicone that was applied on rough fabric. Dark red tones and brownish colours combined with some whites give them the appearance of fresh meat that has just been skinned. A shocking contrast to the often smooth surfaces of the old masters on display here, who masterly managed to paint the objects in their scenes in lifelike, almost photographic realism. Marsyas is one of the mythological figures that is said to have inspired Anish Kapoor for these artworks. Marsyas had lost a musical challenge against Apollo, ancient Greek god of music, and as his punishment, was skinned alive.

Jan Miense Molenaer, self portrait with family, ca. 1635Self-portraits are not an invention of the digital age. Although we could assume so, considering the large numbers of people who nowadays take a selfies of themselves with their smartphones, in front of tourist attractions all over the world or simply in the bathroom mirror. An exhibition in the Mauritshuis in The Hague now shows you how far back the interest in depiciting oneself reaches, under the title Dutch Self-Portraits - Selfies of the Golden Age. Here we see how Dutch painters of the 17th century portrayed themselves en how they found different means and solutions to do so. Both well and lesser known artists are represented here, like Gerard Dou, Rembrandt van Rijn, Huygh Voskuyl and Carel Fabritius. 

Miro Oiseau lunaire We know him as a painter who created fascinating work consisting of seemingly playful coloured areas and dark lines. But artist Joan Miró (1893 – 1983) did not limit himself to painting, he also practiced genres like the graphic arts, ceramics and tapestry. And sculpture, examples of which now populate the beautiful gardens that surround the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This summer, from 19th June until 11th October 2015, 21 sculptures by Miró are being presented here, accompanied by two more works inside the museum's big atrium. This is the first Miró sculpture exhibition in the Netherlands ever. 

 The show focuses on works of bronze, figures that resemble the forms in his paintings and that often refer to the favourite subjects that occupied Joan Miró: women and birds. Here, like in his paintings, infantile fantasy meets forms pregnant with meaning. In his sculptures, Miró not only shows smooth reflecting surfaces that obviously have been treated with great diligence. He did not back away from rupturing notches into the soft material of the maquettes for the bronzes. Preparing these preparatory models is an important step in the production process that leads to the finished bronze sculptures, and by treating them this seemingly rough, mischievous way, the artist presents us the range of contrast that is possible to achieve within one metal medium. 

Scheepvaartmuseum (Dutch National Maritime Museum ) AmsterdamUntil end of August 2014, you can discover the dark side of Dutch trading success in the Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam. A special exhibition in this National Maritime Museum introduces you to the Dutch slave trade. Starting point of the story that is told in the museum is the fate of the ship "The Leusden", a vessel that was used for transporting slaves for the West India Company from West Africa to the Dutch colonies across the Atlantic Ocean.

Scheepvaartmuseum Amsterdam (Dutch Maritime Museum), exhibition roomThe ship stranded off the coast of Suriname in 1738. The crew, being afraid of the captured prisoners below deck, closed them in while the ship took on water and so they let 664 people drown.

With an impressive exhibition, the National Maritime Museum introduces you to this dark chapter of Dutch history and stimulates to reflect on slavery and its impact then and now. With modern technique providing smart tools, the museum staff took on the task to make unimaginable inhumanity visible. The visitor finds himself (or herself) introduced to the subject by Leo Balai, who has performed extensive research on the Dutch slave trade and published a book on the slave vessel "Leusden" in 2011. 

museum kunstpalast ehrenhof düsseldorf In July 2014, it will be 55 years ago that the German artist George Grosz has died. The Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf (Germany) took this occasion to assemble an exibition of his graphic oeuvre. With 120 works in their own depot, there were many highlights to choose from, complemented with loans from other collections.  

The drawings of this important representative of Dadaism and the New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit) date from the times of the Weimar Republic (Weimarer Republik), before George Grosz in 1933 left Germany and emigrated to New York in the United States. 

In this exhibition titled Der große Zeitvertreib ("the big pastime"), the Museum Kunstpalast, located in the Ehrenhof in Düsseldorf, presents a number of imppressive drawings and watercolours made by an artist who is known for his scorching criticism of the ruling class and the social layers being preoccupied with their own amusement. Im times of severe social injustices, satire was his means to pass on the message, also using a sharpened pen.  

On view until August 17th, 2014. 

May 22nd, 2014 



Kunsthal Rotterdam, NetherlandsThe Dutch are well known for their love for design. For a special exhibition on shoe design, it is worth visiting Rotterdam this spring. Until May 11, 2014, the Kunsthal Rotterdam displays a wide range of shoes from 1900 to today. S.H.O.E.S' - Sexy Heels or Easy Sandals shows 500 different pairs of shoes, ranging from a hundred year old ladies' boots and relatively comfortablel sandals to dangerous high heels to be worn by a daring femme fatale

Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas, United Nude shoeSome breathtaking designs for shoe fashion turn the exhibition into a must for fans of footwear. Not always very functional, sometimes bizarre and often sexy, famous and extraordinary designs of shoes from different periods give us insights into an important aspect of fashion history. Among the names of the designers who are represented, you will find Christian Louboutin, Salvatore Ferragamo, Manolo Blahnik, André Perugia, Rem D. Koolhaas and Jan Taminiau, and also young talent is present. 

 Friends of ladies' shoes as cultural heritage, art object or awesome fashion accessoires will all enjoy this. You can also complement a visit to this shoe exhibition with a contrasting museum tour in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. located in the same museum park in Rotterdam. 

 February 6, 2014


Sculptures in the Park of the Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Henry Moore, Large Two FormsIn April this year, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam opened its doors to its newly renovated exhibition rooms. And now in June, another large exhibition area was gained outside of the museum. The garden around the Rijksmuseum building has been re-styled and furnished with a selection of sculptures by Henry Moore. Moore is a British sculptor, especially known for the round, organic forms of his works. For a large part of his oeuvre, the reclining figure is an important motif. The exhibition with Henry Moore's work in the garden of the Rijksmuseum represents the first in a forthcoming series of exhibitions of the Dutch national museum, which will continue making the park a stage for different sculpture shows every summer. 

Catharijneconvent Thuis in de Bijbel museum galleryMary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem for the census. Martha and Mary with Jesus in a Dutch kitchen. Tobit half asleep next to a 17th century building between a yoke, brass ware and cabbage. Healthy Dutch cows in biblical sceneries. The rich man and poor Lazarus as background decoration for a still life made of oysters that probably came from the North Sea, and sweets from an Antwerp pastry chef. 

Artists in the Netherlands of the 16th and 17th century apparently were fond of locating biblical stories in contemporary surroundings, closer to home than the Holy Land. This way, they must have thought back then in the Low countries, the subject became more identifiable and the owner of a painting much easier could compare his own actions and everyday life to the great examples of the Holy Bible. 

Amsterdam Museum, entrance areaThe 17th century, the flourishing age of the young republic of the Netherlands, has become the subject of a temporary exhibition in the Amsterdam Museum. The presentation provides an introduction into this important era, sheding light on such varied aspects as the country's struggle for freedom from Spanish rule, booming international trade, civil everyday life, political quarrels between supporters of the stadtholder (stadhouder) and the republicans, scientific research and technical innovations, religious tolerance, the whealth of quite some citizens and the care for the poor, the old and orphans. All of them important issues in the Golden Age of Amsterdam. 

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