National Trust

Dutch Masters from British Country Houses

11 October 2018 - 6 January 2019

We proudly present a unique exhibition this fall: twenty-two paintings from twelve National Trust houses. Never before has such a large group of Dutch paintings owned by the National Trust travelled outside of the United Kingdom.

The Dutch in Britain

British collectors already had a soft spot for the work of Dutch masters in the seventeenth century. As there were few good home-grown painters, they turned to artists from the Continent. Strong ties between the British Isles and the Dutch Republic made it an obvious choice for the British to commission their paintings from Dutch painters. Some of these paintings were made in Britain, while others were created in the Republic and later found their way to the other side of the Channel.

The appetite for collecting among the British elite really took off beginning in the eighteenth century. Although many accomplished English artists had emerged in the meantime, the Dutch old masters remained popular collector’s items. This explains how – over the centuries – an impressive number of Dutch masterpieces ended up in both existing and new British collections.

Cuyp, Rembrandt, Steen

One of the highlights in the exhibition is an almost 2-metre-wide View of Dordrecht from the north by Aelbert Cuyp (c. 1655) with a beautiful evening sky (Ascott House, Buckinghamshire). From the 18th century, Cuyp's paintings were very popular with the English elite and his best works can therefore still be found in that country. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, they are still very rare to this day. This painting was so large that around 1774, it was divided in two and sold separately. In 1842, the parts we reunited once again.

Rembrandt van Rijn painted at least 40 self-portraits in his lifetime, and from Buckland Abbey in Devon comes this Self-portrait with feathered beret (1635). This work is also an example of a tronie, a painted study in which the person portrayed is dressed in an exotic costume.

Upton House, with its famous collection of paintings, is home to Interior of the Catharinakerk in Utrecht by Pieter Saenredam from c. 1660. This painting is characterised by the peaceful harmony of the enormous white interior to which the people are subordinate. Of course, Jan Steen is not missing. His oeuvre is vast, and taverns, cafés and brothels were favourites in his paintings. In the painting The Tired Traveler, also from Upton House, from c. 1660-61, a woman offers the man a glass of wine—or is there more going on?

Well-known painters such as Abraham Bloemaert, Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit van Honthorst, Pieter de Hooch and Gabriel Metsu are represented as well.

National Trust A
Gerard ter Borch, The Introduction, c. 1662, Oil on canvas, 76 x 68 cm, National Trust, Polesden Lacey, Surrey

The National Trust

There are many paintings by seventeenth-century Dutch masters in British country houses. Some have hung in grand dining rooms or intimate spaces for centuries.

Twenty-two paintings from twelve National Trust houses are currently on display at the Mauritshuis. Never before has such a large group of Dutch paintings owned by the National Trust travelled outside of the United Kingdom.

The National Trust was founded by a group of private donors in 1895 with the aim of preserving places of historic interest or natural beauty ‘for ever, for everyone’.
The Trust now manages hundreds of sites throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland: from country houses to castles, gardens to pubs, and factories to art collections containing Dutch masters of exceptional quality.

The Mauritshuis shows paintings from these National Trust Houses: