High 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.