The Well-stocked Kitchen

Joachim Bueckelaer, 1566, painting, SK-A-1451

It is not the profusion of vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry and kitchenware displayed here by these housemaids that forms the main theme of this painting. It is Jesus visiting Mary and Martha, shown almost as an aside in the distance. The contrast between foreground and background contains the moral…

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…

Portraits of Giuliano and Francesco…

Piero di Cosimo, 1482 - 1485, painting, SK-C-1368

This diptych shows a leading Florentine architect, Giuliano da Sangallo with his late father Francesco, also an architect and a musician. These are early examples of portraits in which the subject’s profession plays a key role. Here a pen and dividers suggest architecture, a melody in note form…

The Singel Bridge at the…

George Hendrik Breitner, 1898, painting, SK-A-3580

Breitner often took photos when preparing a painting. Several preparatory photos for this painting are also known. The way the woman is walking directly towards us and the way the picture is cropped gives it a photographic feel. Originally, Breitner’s subject was a maid, but following the negative…

A Pelican and other Birds near a…

Melchior d'Hondecoeter, c. 1680, painting, SK-A-175

Melchior d’Hondecoeter specialised in depicting birds. Here he painted a pelican, various ducks, a cassowary (left), a flamingo and an African crested crane. D’Hondecoeter was commissioned to paint the work by Stadholder William III and his wife Mary. It was intended for Het Loo palace, where…

The Seven Works of Mercy

Master of Alkmaar, 1504, painting, SK-A-2815

A town in Holland is the setting for a narrative strip showing how a good Christian should help the needy. In almost all the scenes, Christ appears among the onlookers. The scenes give a sense of town life around 1500. This is one of the many art works severely damaged when Protestants cleansed…

Interior of the Sint-Odulphuskerk…

Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, 1649, painting, SK-C-217

Once a Catholic church, St Odulphus’s passed into Protestant hands at the start of the Dutch Revolt against Spain. The artist shows a service taking place. Worshippers are listening to the preacher on the right in the pulpit. Sermons are the main feature of a Protestant service. Saenredam came…

Piano Practice Interrupted

Willem Bartel van der Kooi, 1813, painting, SK-A-1065

A native of Friesland, artist Van der Kooi specialised in painting children. The children in this painting are shown in a playful, spontaneous pose. It could almost be a snapshot. Yet appearances are deceptive. The artist arranged the children deliberately to form a triangular composition. And we no…

Portrait of Gerard Andriesz Bicker

Bartholomeus van der Helst, c. 1642, painting, SK-A-147

Bartholomeus van der Helst portrayed both Bickers, father and son. The difference between the two generations is striking. The father is dressed in sober black, wearing an old-fashioned millstone ruff. His son Gerard - here about twenty - appears in a colourful, flamboyant costume, with a flat…

Silver cabinet

Jan Adolf Hillebrand, 1844, BK-R-4927

As a young cabinetmaker, Hillebrand presented this neo-Gothic showpiece at an industrial exhibition in Leeuwarden in 1844. His ambition was rewarded. King Willem II bought the silver cabinet, having acquired a taste for Gothic art as a student in England. Different Gothic elements are ingeniously…