Top 10 Masters of the Mauritshuis

Home to the best of Dutch paintings from the Golden Age

Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665 (digitized by Madpixel)) by Johannes VermeerMauritshuis

Dutch Masters of the Mauritshuis

The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis is a world-class museum, situated in the heart of The Hague, The Netherlands. The museum presents the very best of Dutch paintings from the Golden Age, including Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Mauritshuis by Jacob van CampenMauritshuis

The museum is housed in a seventeenth-century monumental building in the heart of The Hague, The Netherlands. Over two hundred works from Dutch and Flemish masters are on permanent display in the intimate rooms of the former home of Johan Maurits, Count of Nassau-Siegen.

Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring at the MauritshuisMauritshuis

Never heard of the Mauritshuis before? Let us introduce you to the highlights of our collection!

Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665 (digitized by Madpixel)) by Johannes VermeerMauritshuis

1. Johannes Vermeer - Girl with a Pearl Earring

Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring is, without
a doubt, the most famous painting in the Mauritshuis. 

Many are captivated by the way the girl turns towards the viewer, by her gaze, by the colours.

Her full, red lips are slightly parted, as if she is about to say something.

Her shining pearl seems too large to be real. Vermeer painted it with only two strokes of white paint: one at the bottom to reflect the collar and a thick dab at the top. Nothing more.

The Goldfinch (1654) by Fabritius, CarelMauritshuis

2. Fabritius - The

Carel Fabritius saw it: the beauty of the black, yellow and red in front of the white wall. The light and shade. A single glistening beady eye. The shadow on the wall.He painted the bird – a goldfinch – with loose, visible brushstrokes. Not too much colour or detail. A little bird on a chain, in front of a rather battered wall. That is all. Not much, but just enough.

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp (1632) by Rijn, Rembrandt vanMauritshuis

3. Rembrandt - The
Anatomy Lesson

Rembrandt was around 25 when he left his hometown of Leiden and moved to metropolitan Amsterdam. The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp was the first public commission he received there: a group portrait to mark the annual anatomy lesson given by the guild of surgeons. The virtuoso painting became the young painter’s business card in Amsterdam. ‘Hello, I am Rembrandt van Rijn. You do not know me yet, but this is what I can do’.

View of Delft (c. 1660 - 1661) by Vermeer, JohannesMauritshuis

4. Vermeer - View of Delft

This is the most famous cityscape of the Dutch Golden Age. The interplay of light and shade, the impressive cloudy sky and the subtle reflections in the water make this painting an absolute masterpiece. We are looking at Delft from the south. There is hardly a breath of wind and the city has an air of tranquillity. Vermeer reflected this tranquillity in his composition, by making three horizontal strips: water, city and sky.

The Bull (1647) by Potter, PaulusMauritshuis

5. Potter - The Bull

Paintings of livestock were very popular in the 17th century. Paulus Potter was one of the painters to specialise in the subject. His paintings were often modest in size, making them particularly suitable for hanging at home. What makes The Bull so special is the fact that Potter painted something as ordinary as a bull on such a grand scale – the painting is almost 3,5 meters wide! Despite this large size, he paid great attention to the smallest details, such as the lark in the sky, the sunshine on the meadow, the flies on the bull’s back and the cow’s whiskers. This made the painting the epitome of Dutch naturalistic painting.

As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young' (c. 1668 - 1670) by Steen, JanMauritshuis

6. Steen - As the Old
Sing, So Pipe the Young

Jan Steen was a born storyteller and the joker of the Dutch Masters. There is always humour in his paintings. But not everything is as innocent as it may at first appear. Steen used his humour to deliver a moralising message. He often did this by illustrating – and ridiculing – well-known proverbs. This painting depicts the old Dutch saying As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young. This loosely translates as to lead by example. But what example are the adults in this merry family actually setting for the children?

The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man (c. 1615) by Brueghel the Elder, Jan and Rubens, Peter PaulMauritshuis

7. Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens - The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man

painting depicts the world as God created it: the
Garden of Eden where the first humans lived peacefully together with the
animals. Two
painters worked together to create this panel: Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel
the Elder. These were the two leading painters in early 17th-century Antwerp.

Brueghel prepared the panel in his studio, where he also worked out the painting’s composition. The painting was then taken to Rubens’s studio so he could paint his parts: Adam and Eve, the tree, snake and horse. The panel was then returned to Brueghel’s studio, where he completed all the trees, plants and animals. Only when the painting was finished did the two painters add their signatures.

Self-Portrait (1669) by Rijn, Rembrandt vanMauritshuis

8. Rembrandt - Self

Rembrandt was the master of the self-portrait. He sketched, etched and painted his self-portrait some eighty times – far more often than any of his colleagues. This self-portrait was painted during the last year of his life. Despite the grey hair, double chin and bags under his eyes, there is nothing to suggest that death is near. On the contrary, the master is at his best here and has painted himself with great confidence.

Vase of Flowers (c. 1670) by Heem, Jan Davidsz deMauritshuis

9. De Heem - Vase of

Portraying abundance seems to have been what Jan Davidsz de Heem had in mind when he painted this flower still life. The painting differs completely from the flower pieces made at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Compared with those neatly arranged bouquets, this specimen

represents a true explosion of colour. The huge bouquet contains not only flowers but also ears of wheat, pieces of fruit, and no fewer than twelve small animals. Can you find them all?

View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds (c. 1670 - 1675) by Ruisdael, Jacob vanMauritshuis

10. Van Ruisdael - View
of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds

Jacob van Ruisdael is without doubt the greatest landscape painter of the Dutch Golden Age. The view of Haarlem, where Jacob van Ruisdael lived until 1657, was one of his favourite subjects, he produced about a dozen of these panoramas. One of the most conspicuous elements is the sky, whose impressive array of clouds takes up most of the painting.

Mauritshuis Collection on Google Arts & Culture

Creating a top 10 means killing your darlings, a hard thing to do. Fortunately our entire collection can be found on the Google Arts & Culture Platform. What is your favourite painting?

Credits: Story

Girl with a Pearl Earring gigapixel image has been digitized by Madpixel and is part of the Second Canvas Mauritshuis app

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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