Once the residence of Count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, court dandy, cousin of the ruling Oranje-Nassaus, and governor-general of Dutch Brazil, this small but delightful neoclassical mansion from 1637 rises out of the Hofvijver pond. It houses the Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen (Royal Cabinet of Paintings), a stunning collection of 15th- to 18th-century Low Countries art, given to the nation by King Willem I in 1816. The intimate rooms are set on two floors, and some have illuminated ceilings. It almost feels like you're viewing a private collection.
Famous works include paintings by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Peter Paul Rubens, and Hans Holbein the Younger. Highlights are Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632); Vermeer's meticulous View of Delft (ca. 1660), in which cumulous clouds roil the skies above the neat little town; and his first stab at a movie script: Girl With a Pearl Earring (ca. 1660).
The first floor is mainly given over to Dutch and Flemish religious paintings, and portraits by Holbein and Rubens. Look out in particular for Rogier van der Weyden's disturbingly realistic The Lamentation (ca. 1450), depicting Christ being taken down from the cross. As the first of the "Flemish Primitives," van der Weyden did more than his share of setting off the whole Low Countries art boom. Works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and a riotous Steen are upstairs. You could easily spend a day here, but a morning or afternoon provides a powerful impression of the wealth and breadth of a great art tradition.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010