The Mauritshuis changed colour this summer
The underground extension of the Mauritshuis is now largely complete, so the time has come to decorate. The exterior of the seventeenth-century city palace came first: parts of the façade have been repainted and the windows have been replaced. The listed monument now looks much closer to its 1644 design, due to a reconstruction of the original four-paned windows and the paint colour. The scaffolding around the Mauritshuis is coming down, which offers observant passers-by a sneak peek of the building’s fresh, new face.
The details of the Mauritshuis’ four façades have changed often since the city palace was completed in 1644. It was gutted by fire in 1704, at which time the building was extensively renovated. The appearance of the façades also altered when incompatible windows with six panes were installed in the nineteenth century. These were replaced by a new version of the same design during the renovation of 1982-87. Due to today’s stringent safety requirements for museums, the Mauritshuis had to come up with an entirely new type of window. The museum decided to return to Jacob van Campen’s original design, in which the window is divided into four panes. Van Campen’s assistant, Pieter Post, had made drawings of this design, which were used to produce a fairly accurate reconstruction. The changes that are now taking place are an important step towards reconstructing the original classicist architecture of the Mauritshuis, a process that was began when replicas of the original 1644 chimneys were placed on the roof in 1997.
The woodwork and masonry of the façades were repainted during the months of June and July 2013. Research into the architectural history of the building offered new information about its 1644 finish. Paint residues on the masonry of the façades revealed that that it originally had the yellowish colour of Bentheim sandstone, and this has now been put back. The colour harmonises with the painted elements of the nearby Grenadierspoort, of 1634, and the other buildings overlooking the Binnenhof.
The masonry was already painted at the time the building was completed in 1644. It was repainted during the restoration of the Mauritshuis in 1987. Then, as now, the base of the building had a slightly darker shade, in order to contrast with the rest of the building. The sculptures in the pediments were repainted in July, and now have a greyish-white colour that suggests marble. The sculptures on the Royal Palace on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, another masterpiece by Jacob van Campen, were executed in real marble.