Scale models of ships, weaponry, nautical instruments and historical objects give a unique insight into maritime history and technological developments from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.

See the works in this catalogue

The scale models

In 1817 the Department of the Navy established a model room to store all its scale models and other objects relating to the department’s daily affairs. The models were used in the construction of new ships, in fitting out and converting existing ships, and for the instruction of sailors and officers. These scale models were used to explain highly complex technical developments and are therefore accurate representations of reality. Most of these intricate models were made by model makers working in the various naval dockyards.

Eventually, technical construction drawings made the use of detailed scale models largely redundant. Objects such as captured flags, early ship models and even paintings of naval engagements were added, turning the Navy Model Room into a largely historical collection.

Growing collection

The Model Room at the Department of the Navy in The Hague was also open to visitors. In 1858 Johan Marinus Obreen wrote the first catalogue of the more than 950 objects that were in the collection at that time, making it better known to a wider audience. By the time the Department of the Navy transferred ownership of most of the collection to the Rijksmuseum between 1883 and 1889, the collection had grown to almost 1,600 objects. The remaining objects were sent to the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde in Leiden, or came to other museum collections at a later date.

Extremely varied

The Rijksmuseum’s Navy Models Collection is extremely varied, ranging from scale models of ships to every conceivable part or fitting of a ship: from capstans to figureheads, and anchors to steam engines, also firearms, cannons and ammunition, nautical instruments, models of lighthouses and even buoys. Together they present a unique insight into the technological developments in naval and civilian ship design and of Dutch maritime history throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Notes on the use of this catalogue

A pdf with Notes on the use of this catalogue can be downloaded below, along with an overview of the history of the collecting and cataloguing of the Rijksmuseum’s paintings. Additional attachments (containing among other things a key to abbreviations) can be found under the section ‘Entry’ of the entry pages. Each entry page can be found by scrolling down on the artwork page and clicking on ‘Catalogue entry’ below the image.