The Korte Vijverberg leads to the Mauritshuis, a handsome mansion standing to the east of the Binnenhof, between the Hofvijver and the Plein. In 1631 the cabbage garden and oak wood adjoining the Binnenhof were sold to Johan Maurits van Nassau, former governor of Brazil, and Constantijn Huygens. Huygens, together with Jacob van Campen, then designed for Johan Maurits, following treatises by Italian architects, a monumental and elegant residence in strict classical style.
Korte Vijverberg 8, The Hague, Zuid-Holland 2513 AB, Netherlands
Apr 1 to Sep 1: 10am-5pm; Sun: 11am-5pmSep 2 to Mar 31: 10am-5pm; Sun: 11am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR:
Adult €12.00, Child 18 & under €10.50, Group discounts €6.00
Guides: Guided tour available as optional extra.
Transit: Tram: 1, 7, 8, 9, 12; Bus: 4, 5, 22.
The interior of the house, which was built between 1633 and 1634, was the work of Pieter Post, but it was completely destroyed by fire in 1704. Johan Maurits, an amateur of the arts who had brought back scholars and artists from Brazil, furnished his house with pictures and other objects relating to Brazil. During the 18th century the Mauritshuis was used for a time as an embassy and then as a military school, its cellars as a prison for traitors. Later the royal library was moved to the Mauritshuis, and in 1822 the royal picture gallery. The idea of the old term "cabinet of art", a small room containing valuable objects, curios and pictures, is still reflected in the Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen, the Royal Cabinet of Pictures, in the Mauritshuis: the collection is small, but of the highest quality. During the French occupation 200 pictures were carried off to France, and only 120 of them were recovered in 1815. During the reign of William I, a great patron of art, the finest works purchased by the state came to The Hague - including Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson", Vermeer's "View of Delft", Jacob van Ruisdael's "View of Haarlem's and Rogier van der Weyden's "Lamentation", a masterpiece of medieval painting. The Mauritshuis and many of its pictures underwent extensive restoration between 1982 and 1987, and its floor space was increased by 700 sq.m/7500 sq.ft by an underground extension, not visible from outside, containing a library, a study room and a store. During this period the gallery made numerous new acquisitions, including works by Art de Gelder, Jan Brueghel, Pieter Lastman, Cornelis van Poelenburgh, Salomon van Ruysdael and Jan Sanders van Hemessen. A striking feature of the Mauritshuis is the way in which a renowned collection of pictures is integrated into a historic palace and old and new works are brought into confrontation with one another: thus in the staircase hall the dynamic new ceiling painting by Ger Lataster, "Icarus Atlanticus", contrasts with the historical portraits, and a portrait of Queen Beatrix by Andy Warhol hangs opposite a bust of Prince Johan Maurits van Nassau. This relatively small collection (to which there is an excellent illustrated guide) surpasses other galleries in the Netherlands by the high average level of its pictures. Among the early Dutch works Rogier van der Weyden's "Lamentation" is outstanding. The German school is represented, among other pictures, by three fine Holbeins. The Flemish artists represented include Rubens ("Portrait of Bishop Michiel Ophovius") and Antonie van Dyck.
Mauritshuis Chief Treasures
The chief treasures of the Mauritshuis are the works by Dutch 17th century masters. Frans Hals is represented by a number of brilliant portraits, Rembrandt by 15 pictures, including the "Anatomy Lesson", "Simeon in the Temple", "Homer", "Saul and David" and three self-portraits, notably the "Self-Portrait in a Feather Hat" - a portrait of the type known as a tronie (i.e. depicting a particular human type).
The Earthly Paradise
"The Earthly Paradise" is an example of the collaboration between two painters which was common in the 17th century: the figure of Adam was painted by Rubens, while the idyllic setting, with the animals, was the work of Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Mauritshuis' Other Works
Other important works are Karel Fabritius's "Goldfinch", three major paintings by Vermeer (the famous "View of Delft", the "Girl with a Pearl" and "Diana"), 13 of Jan Steen's lively pictures, Paulus Potter's life-size "Bull" and smaller works by Gerard Dou, Gerard Terborch and Gabriel Metsu.