The Mauritshuis is a small museum located in The Hague in the Netherlands. Although small in size, the museum is packed with great works of art, many of which are internationally famous.
The core of the Mauritshuis collection is the collection assembled by Prince William V of Orange. William became stadholder (hereditary ruler) of the Dutch Republic in 1751. Longing to be recognized as an equal to the European royal families, William decided to create an impressive art collection. He brought together the various art collections that had been assembled over the years by the House of Orange and purchased additional works. In 1774, he put these on display in a gallery in the Hague near his residence. However, during a disasterous war against Revolutionary France, the collection was seized by the French in 1794. Most of the works were returned after the fall of Napoleon in 1815. By that time, however, William had died in exile.
William V's son, also called William, declared himself King William I of the Netherlands in 1813. Subsequently, he donated the art collection to the Dutch nation.
Over the years, acquisitions have been made - - and are still being made - - to round out the collection.
Referred to as the Royal Picture Collection, the collection focuses on Dutch and Flemish art from the 15th to the 18th century. It conists of some 800 objects. However, included in the collection are masterpieces by all of the great names of that period including Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, Jan Breugel, Peter Paul Ruebens, and Anthony Van Dyck.
Most of the collection is housed in a city palace built for Count Johan Mauritus between 1633 and 1644. The Count was appointed governor of the colony of Dutch Brazil and the fortune he made from the sugar and slave trades funded the construction of the palace back home. After his death, the palace was rented by the Dutch government and used for various purposes. In 1820, the government purchased the building to house the Royal Cabinet of Paintings. It was opened to the public in 1822.
The palace is an elegant building designed in the Dutch Classical style by Jacob van Campen. Inside, the building remains placial with dark woodwork and the paintings hung against silk wall coverings.
Some of the Mauritshuis' collection is on display in the nearby Prince William V Gallery. This gallery seeks to capture the atmosphere of the orignal 1774 gallery.
For more information on visiting, see the Mauritshuis website.
Places to see art - - Amsterdam, The Netherlands - - Rijksmuseum