Mauritshuis Museum Day Trip to The Hague
Mauritshuis Museum is one of the highlights of a day trip to The Hague. This first-rate art museum is famous for seventeenth-century Dutch masters such as Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, Paulus Potter, Jan Steen and others. The museum itself is a two-story, strictly symmetrical building with a beautiful exterior and an even more amazing interior. The museum is small compared to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The advantage is that you can see all works of art in one afternoon or morning which leaves enough time to go shopping in The Hague or visit Scheveningen beach.
If you want to see The Hague at leisure join The Hague by bike tour
Mauritshuis Museum: Johannes Vermeer – The Girl with the Pearl (1665)
Mauritshuis Museum is home to Vermeer’s most famous painting; The Girl with the Pearl; a girl wearing an oriental turban and a large pearl earring. The girl turns her gaze towards the viewer; her look is irresistible. This work of art not a portrait but a tronie, a type of painting very common in the seventeenth century, showing an exaggerated expression or a stereotype character often dressed in a special costume. She is also the main character in the historical novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.
Mauritshuis Museum: Carel Fabritius – The Goldfinch (1654)
The Goldfinch is a very small painting only 33.5 by 22.8 cm (13.2 by 9.0 in). It is a trompe-l’oeil of a goldfinch sitting on its feeder and chained by its foot. In the seventeenth century, goldfinches were popular pets, as they could be taught tricks like drawing water from a bowl. Trompe-l’œil is a technique that creates an optical illusion, as if the painting exists in three dimensions.
Mauritshuis Museum: Rembrandt van Rijn – The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, (1632)
Rembrandt was only twenty-five when Dr Nicolaes Tulp commissioned him to paint the portraits of the Amsterdam surgeons. The surgeons all look in different direction and seem actively engaged. In this painting Tulp explains the muscular system of the arm to the spectators who are all doctors. Medical experts commented on the accuracy of the muscles and tendons. It is very likely that Rembrandt copied the details from an anatomical textbook. The corpse is a convict who was sentenced to death by hanging for an armed robbery.
Treasure Room Paintings and Willem van Haecht
Antwerp-born Willem van Haecht was one of the first painters of treasure rooms. Few artists adopted this exclusive genre so that only a hundred or so Treasure Rooms were painted. A Treasure Room painting was either a fictitious place in which the artist painted an ideal art collection or the interior really existed. In that case the art collector commissioned the painting to show off his collection.
Be sure to have a look at Willem van Haecht’s Treasure Room or Kunstkammer, a genre that shows a room whose walls are crammed with paintings from top to bottom. More paintings stand on the floor and lean against chests or a tables. A tall window allows daylight to illuminate the works of art in the painting. The owner of the art collection is often depicted together with visiting connoisseurs. They often gather round a table laden with curiosities like rare shells, scientific instruments or drawings.
Apelles Painting the Portrait Campaspe (1630)
Apelles Painting the Portrait Campaspe by Willem van Haecht paints a story from classical antiquity. This painting is a so-called Treasure Room genre. We see a room full Flemish, German, Dutch and Italian works of art both pictures and statues. In the left foreground the Apelles, a renowned painter of ancient Greece, is painting the portrait of Campaspe, one of Alexander the Great’s concubines. While painting her, Apelles fell in love with his subject. Alexander the Great finds the painting so beautiful that he wants to have it. In return for the painting Alexander donates his lover to Apelles; art prevails over nature.
Mauritshuis is in the centre of The Hague, close to the Binnenhof, Parliament Buildings, and the Gevangenpoort, Prisoner’s Gate, Museum. It is a fifteen-minute walk from The Hague Centraal station. A direct train service connects Amsterdam to The Hague. The journey takes an hour.
Daily 10.00-18.00, but Monday 13.00-18.00 and Thursday 10.00-20.00