The Rijksmuseum which translated into English means the state museum, has existed for more than 200 years. In 1890 a building made from the fragments of demolished buildings in Amsterdam was added to the Rijksmuseum. These buildings when assembled gave the museum an overview of Dutch architectural legacy.
The museum itself has one million pieces in the collection, but the four hundred most famous pieces are collected in the fragmented section (also called the Philips wing) of the Rijksmuseum under the exhibition name “The Masterpieces”. As one of the most breathtaking museums, it hosts collections paintings of famous Dutch and World artists such as Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’ and other several paintings by Jan Steen and Van Dyck.
Without a doubt, Rembrandt’s Night Watch (1642) is the showpiece of the Rijksmuseum’s collection. You can compare the Night Watch with the Mona Lisa in Paris. It depicts a citizens militia ready for action. The militia’s were responsible for the city’s army. The members of a militia had to bear the cost of their own weapons. In practice, therefore, the militia were associations of the higher classes. Rembrand’ts group portraint was ordered and paid for by 18 members of the militia and was hung on the wall of the smokingroom, where it darkened over the years.
Rembrandt made the painting in 1642 for their guild headquarters, the Kloveniersdoelen. Standing in the foreground are Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch. The captain, in black, is giving an order. That Rembrandt depicted the militiamen in action is quite exceptional: until then, the sitters in such group portraits were shown either standing or sitting stiffly next to another.
Rembrandt used light to emphasize important details, such as the captain’s hand gesture and the girl in the pale dress. She is probably the civic guard’s mascot and is one of the figures Rembrandt added to animate the composition. The nickname Night Watch originated much later, when the painting was thought to represent a nocturnal scene.
A 17th-century copy of the Night Watch in the Rijksmuseum reveals that the composition was originally larger. The painting was cut down on three sides – above all, on the left – when it was moved in 1715 from the large hall of the Kloveniersdoelen to the Amsterdam Town Hall. It had to fit in between doors in its new location. The strips of canvas that were cut away were not preserved.
Two paintings by the famous 17th century Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn will hopefully be bought by The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. They are presently in possession of the De Rothschild family and are worth some 160 million Euro’s. The then only 25 years old Rembrandt painted the couple in full length in 1631.
We see Marten Soolmans on the first painting and his spouse Oopjen Coppit on the second one, at the time of their marriage. The paintings were sold to the Rothschilds in 1877 by the noble Amsterdam family Van Loon. Rijksmuseum director Wim Pijbes says: ” In those days a lot of Rembrandt’s and Vermeer’s have been sold to foreign parties.” “We hope to be able to use this opportunity to get original Dutch art works back. We have to find funding by sponsors for this.” Not known is what was paid back in 1877 by Rothschild to van Loon for this magnificent piece of art.
This civic guard painting is a substantial 7.5 metres wide and almost filled an entire wall in the large hall of the Kloveniersdoelen. The captain Roelof Bicker did not line up the thirty militiamen in a static row, but positioned the ones with the lightest colored clothing in front at regular intervals. The painter included himself in the group, at the far left (on the painting above). 🙂
What a piece of art! Unbelievable!
This museum isn’t just about paintings, it has so much more to offer. One of the things which makes the Rijksmuseum a must-see, is the lovely stained glass. Especially when the sun is out, this stained glass is something which you don’t wanna miss.
The famous Dutch painter, Rembrandt van Rijn, is also displayed in stained glass. See the picture below. So beautiful!
The Rijksmuseum is located on the Museum Square in Amsterdam. This is a great square to go to and enjoy the happenings around you. Get yourself photographed in front of the Rijksmuseum and the Iamsterdam logo. Or watch the skaters doing their tricks in the half-pipe. Or get yourself a nice drink on one of the terraces and enjoy the view.
During the winters in Amsterdam, you could do some ice skating on Museum Square. Just in front of the Rijksmuseum.
Ice skating on Amsterdam’s Museum Square is something which people do for decades. Look at this beautiful picture of the same place in 1912.
The Rijksmuseum is quite huge, so it takes a while to see everything in the museum. The best part of the Rijksmuseum is on the second floor. This is also where Rembrand’t masterpiece, The Night Watch, can be found. Seeing everything on the second floor, while walking slowly, might take you 1.5 – 2 hours.
We could definitely recommend you to combine your visit to the Rijksmuseum with the Hop On Hop Off cruise through Amsterdam’s canals. This includes a “skip the line” ticket for the Rijksmuseum. As the Rijksmuseum is one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam, this will definitely safe you precious time. FYI: The Rijksmuseum receives about a million visitors a year.
Open daily from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.
Or CLICK HERE to read why you should go see the Vincent van Gogh Museum.
The Rijksmuseum is a 30 minute walk away from the Red Light District. Perhaps a bit too far to do it by foot. We’d recommend taking the tram.