The Rijksmuseum is located in the heart of Amsterdam and has arguably the best collection of Dutch Baroque art in the world. In 2013, the museum reopened after a very extensive 10-year renovation which prepared it for the future. It is the biggest and most popular museum in The Netherlands. For these reasons, we have developed an audio tour of the highlights of this wonderful museum. The tour is for free available in the Amuze app on your iPhone or Android phone. Listen to a sample of the tour below:
During the 17th-century, The Netherlands (or, more accurately, the Dutch Republic) was probably the most prosperous country in the world. They became independent from the Spanish Empire after a long war and became very wealthy with their international trade. In addition, the role of the Catholic Church was minimized as the majority of people turned to Protestantism. These developments created many challenges and opportunities for the painters in the Dutch Republic. Whereas, artists use to rely on commissions from the Catholic Church and they almost exclusively created religious works, they suddenly had to change gears and sell their art to other institutions and wealthy individuals. To address this challenge, painters developed many new themes to appeal to this new audience, including genre paintings, portraits, and landscapes.
Within this new environment in the Dutch Republic, several painters excelled, including the big three of the Dutch Baroque. The first among them was Frans Hals who lived in Haarlem. He had revolutionary artistic ideas and applied them primarily to individual and group portraits. The Rijksmuseum has several of his works on display, including the Portrait of a Couple, Probably Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa and Beatrix van der Laen. Instead of creating two relatively static, pendant portraits as was customary, Hals created a large, loving, and dynamic portrait of this wealthy couple.
The second major Dutch Baroque artist is, of course, Rembrandt. Born in Leiden, he spent most of his artistic career in Amsterdam. It is now wonder that the Rijksmuseum has quite some magnificent pieces of Rembrandt in its collection. The most famous among them is The Night Watch. If you follow the route recommended in our tour, you can see this big painting already from a long distance while you admire other masterpieces in the Gallery of Honour.
The third titan in Dutch Baroque painting is Johannes Vermeer. He lived all his life in the city of Delft where he only produced a limited number of paintings. Whereas Hals and Rembrandt created more than a thousand works each, only 35 paintings by Johannes Vermeer are known. But almost all these works are true masterpieces. Among the treasures by Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum are The Milkmaid and The Little Street.
Our tour through the Rijksmuseum does not only include works of these three magnificent painters, but also works by amazing artists like Jan Steen, Johannes Verspronck, and even Vincent van Gogh. We truly believe that this museum is a treasure for everyone interested in art and hope that our audio tour will make your experience even better.
For now, you can try it out at home and experience the museum virtually. We hope that the museums are going to reopen in time such that you can see these works in person again. Because seeing a high-resolution image of The Night Watch is still not the same as standing in front of the real one…
Stay safe and wishing you all the best! Eelco