Blue Macaw

Meissener Porzellan Manufaktur, 1731, BK-17496

German scientists discovered the ingredients of Chinese porcelain in the 18th century. Elector August the Strong was such a fan of this hard, translucent white material that he filled his Japanese Palace in Dresden with porcelain objects. In the 1730s, he had a series of large birds and animals…

Roemer with a poem to Constantijn…

anonymous, 1619, BK-1983-15

Anna Roemers Visscher engraved one of her own poems in a wineglass as a gift for Constantijn Huygens. The verse contains a complaint and an exhortation: her pen has dried up, her brain has rusted. She asks Huygens to fetch her some water from the Helicon – where the Muses live – so her ink will flow…

Self-portrait

Johan Gregor van der Schardt, c. 1573, bust, BK-2000-17

Guanyin

anonymous, c. 1100 - c. 1200, figure, AK-MAK-84

The Buddhist deity Guanyin, who rescues people in need, is shown here meditating, seated on a rock. According to legend, he was once discovered in this position, meditating on the moon’s reflection in the water - in Buddhism a symbol of illusion and transience. His pose and facial expression embody…

The Merry Fiddler

Gerard van Honthorst, 1623, painting, SK-A-180

Children of the Sea

Jozef Israëls, 1872, painting, SK-A-2382

This delightful scene contains a moral. These children from a poor fishing village with their shabby clothes and broken toys, are playing out their own future. The oldest boy carries the burden of his family on his shoulders, while the boat represents the harsh life at sea. Jozef Israëls first…

Portrait of Jacob Cornelisz van…

Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen (workshop of), c. 1533, painting, SK-A-1405

Self portraits signal a growing awareness among artists of their own role. This work was long thought to be the earliest self portrait of an artist in the Northern Netherlands. Jacob Cornelisz is looking directly at the viewer; behind him on a piece of paper is the date, 1533, and the artist’s…

River Landscape with Riders

Aelbert Cuyp, 1653 - 1657, painting, SK-A-4118

Travellers are resting their horses in a sun-soaked river landscape. To judge from their orange shawls, they seem to be Dutch army officers. Cuyp saw these steep hills when he travelled along the River Rhine between Nijmegen and Cleves. It was probably the sketches he drew there that formed the…

The Massacre of the Innocents

Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, 1590, painting, SK-A-128

A Mother Delousing her Child’s…

Pieter de Hooch, c. 1658 - c. 1660, painting, SK-C-149

A mother is inspecting her child’s hair for lice. They are in a sober Dutch interior, with Delft blue tiles and a bedstead. The chair on the right is a children’s toilet, with a built-in chamber pot. Through the door we see the back room, and catch a glimpse of the garden. These views into the…