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Prince William V

The oldest part of the Mauritshuis collection comprises paintings once owned by the Sadholder WilliaV, prince of Orange-Nassau (1748-1806). Though he inherited some of the collection, he purchased many paintings when still quite young. His collection was exhibited in the Prince William Gallery in a building on the Buitenhof.

Many important paintings in the Mauritshuis came from this collection, such as The bull by Potter, The young mother by Dou, The garden of Eden by Brueghel and Rubens, and Holbein’s Portrait of Robert Cheseman.  

Hans Holbein, Portret Cheseman Paulus Potter, de Stier

Hans Holbein, Portrait of
Robert Cheseman

Paulus Potter, The bull

After the French invasion in 1795, William V was forced to flee to England. His collection of paintings was taken by Napoleon to Paris and put on display in the Louvre.

Ziezenis, Portret van Willem V

Johan Georg Ziezenis,
Portrait of William V

It was not until twenty years later, in 1815, that the collection was largely returned to The Hague. A year later it was donated to the Dutch State by King William I (1772-1843), after which it was known as the Royal Cabinet of Paintings. The paintings were again housed in the Gallery on the Buitenhof, but this building soon proved to be too small, and in 1822 the Royal Cabinet of Paintings was moved to the Mauritshuis.

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See also:
Gallery Prince William V