Paintings are the Rijksmuseum’s calling card. The 17th-century Dutch works, in particular the masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer, enjoy national and international renown. The museum administers close to 6000 paintings on panel and on canvas. The collection of Early Netherlandish paintings is also famous; most of these panels have religious subjects and date from the 15th and 16th century. Moreover, there are also superb 14th-century portraits.
After the Reformation, around 1600, painters began to specialize in a single subject. These new 'genres' were usually not, or only indirectly, religious in nature. Subjects that until then had been incorporated in religious scenes became independent genres, such as landscape, still life, and portraiture. Another genre was history painting; depictions of stories from the Bible, mythology or history. In addition, there were the popular genre scenes of people in their everyday surroundings, sometimes containing veiled symbolism.
Because of the magnitude of the collection of paintings, they have been grouped by genre on the museum’s website.