Chest with nine porcelain bottles

anonymous, c. 1680 - c. 1700, chest, NG-444

The box was probably made in Batavia (Jakarta). The bottles are from Japan. They would have been used for expensive spice oils to prepare food, perfumes or medicines. Representatives of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) would present these as gifts to Asian potentates.

The Sick Child

Gabriël Metsu, c. 1664 - c. 1666, painting, SK-A-3059

A worried mother looks at her young daughter, slumped listlessly on her lap. Metsu chose an unusual subject, since depictions of poorly children are rare in 17th-century art. Perhaps he intended the mother to personify charity, Caritas. Then the picture of the Crucifixion on the wall would be a…

The Holy Kinship

Geertgen tot Sint Jans (workshop of), c. 1495, painting, SK-A-500

Christ’s family is gathered together in this fictional medieval church: the Holy Family, known in Dutch as the holy ‘maagschap’, an old word for kinship. Left, in a blue robe, the Virgin Mary is seated with Jesus, and alongside, her mother Anna. Behind are the two husbands: Joseph and Joachim.…

The Art Gallery of Jan…

Adriaan de Lelie, 1794 - 1795, painting, SK-A-4100

In 1792, Gildemeester, a merchant, turned two large rooms at his house on Amsterdam’s Herengracht into an art gallery. Here he stands proudly at the centre of the front room, speaking with one of his guests. Visitors are examining famous paintings, including a Rembrandt - above Gildemeester’s head.…

Diorama of a Slave Dance

Gerrit Schouten, 1830, NG-2005-24

The scene in the dance tent is a ‘du’, a role-play event with music and dancing, held once every year on the plantations. Both players and audience were slaves. The main character was the ‘Afrankeri’, the narrator, left. The man in the red suit on the right is playing the king. Europeans in Suriname…

Square Man

Karel Appel, 1951, painting, SK-A-5002

The square man squeezes with difficulty into this square canvas. He seems to squint slightly with his red and green eyes and his blue mouth gapes open. The head is too big, the body is too small, and the arms and legs are too short, yet with his fiercely coloured body and his ponderous genitals, he…

Haarlem reception room 1794

Abraham van der Hart, c. 1793 - c. 1795, BK-15613

This interior is from the home of merchant and art collector Willem Philip Kops, at Nieuwe Gracht 74 in Haarlem. The room was probably used for evening receptions. It is complete, except for the stucco ceiling. Abraham van der Hart, Amsterdam’s municipal architect, created a complete neoclassical…

Banquet Still Life

Adriaen van Utrecht, 1644, painting, SK-C-301

The Adoration of the Magi

Geertgen tot Sint Jans, c. 1480 - c. 1485, painting, SK-A-2150

The Plum Garden at Kameido Shrine

Hiroshige (I) , Utagawa, 1857, print, RP-P-1956-743