At Home in Holland: Vermeer and his Contemporaries from the British Royal Collection
29 September 2016 – 5 February 2017
The British royal family owns one of the finest collections of Old Master paintings in the world. The collection was brought together over many centuries by successive monarchs. The paintings normally hang behind closed doors in Buckingham Palace and other royal residences. The Mauritshuis has the great privilege of showing twenty-two of them for the duration of this exhibition.
More information, the video trailer, a crash course and looking tips can be found on our Royal Website.
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Johannes Vermeer, Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman ('The Music Lesson'), c.1660-1662, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016
The famous Royal Collection, held in trust by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, contains highlights from the oeuvres of famous painters such as Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriël Metsu and Jan Steen.
The works selected for this exhibition are all genre paintings by Dutch artists of the Golden Age. Here is life as it was lived: peasants fighting, ladies and gentlemen flirting, loving mothers and common shopkeepers.
The highlight of the exhibition is the Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman ('The Music Lesson') by Johannes Vermeer. 'The Music Lesson' is one of 36 surviving and very rare pieces by Johannes Vermeer. This painting dates from 1660-1662 and shows a lady and a gentleman beside a virginal. Above the instrument hangs a mirror, in which we see the reflection of the foot of Vermeer's easel. Music is undoubtedly a symbol of love in this painting, and this is confirmed by the Latin maxim on the virginal. The painting was acquired by King George III of England in 1762, but was attributed to Frans van Mieris the Elder at the time. Only later was it recognised as a piece by Vermeer.
Another of the exhibition's highlights is A Woman at her Toilet by Jan Steen, which dates from 1663. In it we see a young woman who, judging by the indents above her calves, is not pulling her stocking on, but off, as her eyes meet those of the viewer. Here too, the context is seen as amorous. These representations were extremely popular in their day. Steen makes the point that the physical pleasures are transient by showing a skull in the door opening, under a lute with a broken string.
De Royal Collection and the Mauritshuis
The exhibition At Home in Holland: Vermeer and his Contemporaries from the British Royal Collection is a collaboration between Royal Collection Trust and the Mauritshuis. The exhibition was held at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, and at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh under the title Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated Dutch and English language catalogue: Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer.
Jan Steen, A Woman at het Toilet, 1663, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016
The catalogue written by the exhibition's curators, Desmond Shawe-Taylor (Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Royal Collection Trust) and Quentin Buvelot (head curator at the Mauritshuis) and is currently available from the Mauritshuis museum shop.
Films Royal Collection
Three short film talk about the Royal Collection, Dutch Genre paintings and the 'Music lesson' by Vermeer.
The exhibition is made possible by support of ABN AMRO Bank, The Friends of the Mauritshuis Foundation and the Dutch Masters Foundation.