Amsterdam, Netherlands: State Art Museum: History, Permanent Collection.

Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)


Permanent Collection
Contact Details

The Milkmaid by Jan Vermeer
The Milkmaid (c.1658)
By Jan Vermeer. One of the
greatest genre paintings of the
Dutch Realism school.

The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Netherlands State Art Museum is one of the World's Best Museums.

Before visiting the Rijksmuseum, see
Art Evaluation: How to Appreciate Art.

Prado Museum Madrid
Uffizi Gallery Florence
National Gallery London
British Royal Art Collection
British Museum

Hermitage St Petersburg
Musee Conde, Chantilly
Louvre Museum
Musee d'Orsay
Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden
Gemaldegalerie SMPK, Berlin
Pinakothek Museum Munich
Kunsthistorisches Museum

History of Art Timeline.


Founded in 1800, the Rijksmuseum (State Museum) of Amsterdam is the Netherlands National Museum, specializing in arts and crafts. One of the top art museums in Europe, it houses the world's largest and most important collection of 17th Century Dutch painting, featuring some of the greatest works by Dutch realist artists like Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Vermeer and Frans Hals. In addition, it has a wide range of graphic art and a large collection of Asian art. Other important art museums in the Netherlands include: the Kroller-Muller Museum Otterlo, the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), the Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam), the Rembrandt House Museum (Amsterdam) and Mauritshuis (The Hague).


The Rijksmuseum occupies a historic building on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, close by the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Concertgebouw. It is the largest museum of fine art in Holland, with the largest permanent collection (managed by 45 curators) and a total staff of around 400.

Each year, the Rijksmuseum receives more than a million visitors. Also part of the complex, is the Rijksmuseum Research Library, which is the largest public art history research library in the The Netherlands.


Since late 2003, the Rijksmuseum has undergone a major renovation and restoration. However, some parts of the museum remain open to the public. The Rijksmuseum's Philips Wing currently hosts "The Masterpieces" an exhibition which showcases over 400 of the greatest works of art in the museum collection.

The renovation continues until 2010: the building is being restored according to designs presented by Spanish architects Antonio Cruz and Antonio Ortiz.

For top creative practitioners, see:
Best Artists of All Time.
For the greatest view painters, see:
Best Landcape Artists.
For the greatest still life art, see:
Best Still Life Painters.
For the greatest portraitists
see: Best Portrait Artists.
For the greatest genre-painting, see:
Best Genre Painters.

For details of any important
shows being staged at the
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam,
see: Art News Headlines.

For the finest works, see:
Greatest Paintings Ever.

For details of the world's most
highly priced works of art, see:
Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings


The Permanent Collection

The Rijksmuseum holds numerous masterpieces of Dutch Realism by the greatest painters of the 17th century. Most are currently on display in "The Masterpieces" exhibition in the Philip's Wing. The highlights of the museum's permanent collection include the following:

Rembrandt (1606-69)
There are eighteen works by Rembrandt, including several of his greatest portraits and group portraits, like The Night Watch (1642). Other works include: The Syndics of the Clothmaker's Guild (1662), The Anatomical Lesson of Dr. Deyman, The Jewish Bride (1665-8), Saskia with a Veil, and Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul.

Jan Vermeer (1632-75)
The Rijksmuseum holds four masterpieces of Dutch Realist genre painting by Vermeer, including The Milkmaid 1658–1660). Other works include: The Love Letter, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, and The Little Street.

Frans Hals (1582-1666)
The collection has a number of portraits by Frans Hals, including: Portrait of a Young Couple, The Company of Reynier Real, The Jolly Drinker, Portrait of Lucas De Clercq, Portrait of Nicolaes Hasselaer, Portrait of a Man. His most famous masterpiece The Laughing Cavalier (1624) is actually in the Wallace Collection, London.

Jan Steen (1625-79)
A number of Steen's warm-hearted genre-scenes and portraits are also in the collection, such as: The Feast of Saint Nicholas, The Drunken Pair, The Toilet and Arent Oostwaard and his wife.

Other Famous Artists: Dutch Realism School

Other 17th century painters represented in the collection, include:

Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634), Salomon van Ruysdael (1602-70), Aert van der Neer (1603-77), Adriaen van Ostade (1610-85), William van de Velde the Elder (1611-93), Ferdinand Bol (1616-80), Carel Fabritius (1622-54), Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627-78), Jacob van Ruisdael (1628-82), Pieter de Hooch (1629-83), Meyndert Hobbema (1638-1709), and Jan van Huysum (1682-1749), to name but a few.

See also our article: How To Appreciate Paintings.

Other Artworks

Although especially strong in 17th century paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, the Rijksmuseum also holds significant collections of western European painting and sculpture, as well as oriental art. Its decorative art holdings feature its famous doll’s houses, ceramics including its exquisite collection of Delftware and a magnificent selection of 17th century silverware.


Rijksprentenkabinet (Print Room)

The museum's print room has one of Europe's best collections of prints, drawings and other graphic art, including rare illuminated manuscripts.

History of the Rijksmuseum

The museum's art collection - comprising over 200 paintings and other decorative objects - opened to the public in 1800 in Huis Ten Bosch, The Hague. The museum was then known as the National Art Gallery (Nationale Kunst-Gallerij). In 1808, on the orders of king Louis Napoleon, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, the museum moved to Amsterdam acquiring the city's own art collection in the process. The current building, designed by architect Pierre Cuypers, has been in use since 1885, although a number of significant alterations and additions have been made to the structure.

Contact Details

Opening Hours

Rijksmuseum, The Masterpieces
Every day from 9:00 to 18:00: Fridays until 20:30

Library, Print Room and Reading Room
Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00

Further Information

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
PO Box 74888
1070 DN Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Tel. +31 (0)20 6747047
Fax. +31 (0)20 6747001
Web: www.rijksmuseum.nl


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