Het Mauritshuis – The Hague, Netherlands

A Small Feast of a Collection from the Golden Age

Vermeer’s famous View of Delft moved the French writer Marcel Proust to call it the most beautiful painting in the world. Together with other gems such as Rembrandt’s graphical Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (the first canvas to bring him recognition), it forms the core of a small but splendid collection from the great 17th-century Dutch masters.

Long acknowledged as one of the world’s finest small museums, the Mauritshuis occupies the beautiful, Palladian-inspired mansion of Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, 17th- century Dutch governor-general of Brazil.

Inside, it’s almost like viewing a private collec­tion, while outside a small, tree-shaded pond is crisscrossed by resident swans. Tour groups are uncommon, and most art lovers linger on the upper floor, where other works by Vermeer (including his celebrated Girl with a Pearl Earring), Rembrandt, and Jan Steen can be found.

As the seat of government for the Netherlands, home to Queen Beatrix and the International Court of Justice, The Hague is a powerful and dignified city. Some of its regal past can easily be recaptured at high tea in the magnificent lounge of the city’s historical Hotel des Indes, built in 1856 for the private adviser to King William III.

Formerly a lavish baronial town house, it was here that Mata Hari practiced her subtle subterfuge while the hotel was used as Allied headquarters during the dark days of WW I.

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