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Maarten van Heemskerck, portrait of a man, RijksmuseumNo artwork confronts us as directly as a portrait and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam possesses plenty of them. Enough reason to offer a thematic museum tour on the subject of portraits and self portraits in this museum. The portraits on display here vary from tiny and personal to life size and huge. The portrayed sitters can be private citizens or national heroes. Some can not even be called sitters because their portrait was painted posthumously. Some portraits are adorned by highly symbolic elements and often enough not all of the pictorial riddle has been solved yet. Others seem to be naturalistic sketches or studies of facial expression. Even some truly amazing sculpted portraits are exhibited in the museum. 

Confronting look into the soul  

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands by Andy Warhol and Max KootWhy did people have their effigy painted ages ago? For some like the aristocracy and wealthy merchants, it was a matter of social status. Marital portraits give us insights into the values that bride and groom attached to an ideal marriage and to family relations. Portraits of statesmen in historical scenes can be characterised as propaganda. Also artists themselves were portrayed, which provides us with interesting information about the perception of the artists' profession by their contemporaries. What they all have in common is the urge to leave behind an image of their own appearance - something we are still familiar with today. 

In the Rijksmuseum, we can admire and study portraits by many artists, amogn them Jacopo Tintoretto, Jan van Scorel, Maarten van Heemskerck, Artus Quellinus, Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, Ferdinand Bol, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Jan Steen, Francisco José de Goya and Vincent van Gogh. Learn more about how they depicted their customers and themselves during this surprising museum tour. 


Raden Syarif Bustaman Saleh, painter from Java, portrait by Friedrich Carl Albert SchreuelSee this page for prices and group sizes for guided tours in the Rijksmuseum. 

You prefer a general tour along the highlights of the Rijksmuseum? Click here for more information





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