Self-portrait

Vincent van Gogh, 1887, painting, SK-A-3262

After he heard his brother Theo describe the new colourful style of French art, Vincent decided in 1886 to move to Paris. He soon began experimenting with the new idiom in a series of self portraits. This was mainly to spare the expense of using models. Here he painted himself as a debonnaire…

The Battle of Waterloo

Jan Willem Pieneman, 1824, painting, SK-A-1115

Emperor Napoleon met his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This painting – the largest at the Rijksmuseum – shows the moment when the tide turned: the British general Wellington hears that the Prussian army is approaching. Victory, and an end to twenty years of war, is at hand. The…

A Windmill on a Polder Waterway,…

Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël, c. 1889, painting, SK-A-1505

‘Our country is colourful, juicy, fat. (...) I repeat, our country is not dull, not even in dull weather, the dunes are not dull either’, Constant Gabriël wrote in a letter. Unlike many artists of the Hague School, he preferred painting fine summer days. Here there are two: the grass, sky and…

Portrait of Don Ramón Satué

Francisco de Goya, 1823, painting, SK-A-2963

Goya was well-known as a court-painter and for his idiosyncratic prints. He had already turned 76 when he painted this powerful portrait. Don Ramón was a judge in the highest tribunal of Castile. The casual pose and open collar have an informality Goya usually reserves for the portraits of his most…

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…

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…

Italian Landscape with Umbrella…

Hendrik Voogd, 1807, painting, SK-A-4688

Voogd was known as the Dutch Claude, after the French painter Claude Lorrain, who was famous for his historical landscapes bathed in a golden glow. Voogd depicted the garden at Villa Borghese in Rome late in the afternoon: the sun casts long shadows and the trees stand out starkly against the sky.…

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 Alida Christina Assink

Jan Adam Kruseman, 1833, painting, SK-C-1672

Dressed to the nines in the latest fashion, Alida Assink poses here for Kruseman, the society artist. Her clothes give her a fashionable shape: with her wide shoulders, puffed sleeves and hooped skirt, her waist seems tiny. The large belt clasp draws even more attention to her midriff. Kruseman was…

Javanese Court Officials

anonymous, c. 1820 - c. 1870, painting, NG-2010-39

Clothes make the man, so too in Indonesia. These are not actual portraits, but types. In addition to revealing the region these men come from, the meticulously painted clothes and batik motifs also provide information about their rank and status. These proud, confident figures are unusual: in…