Rijksmuseijm – Amsterdam, Netherlands

An Ode to Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age

This is the Netherlands’ greatest museum and, for lovers of the 17th-century Old Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn (1606—1669), guardian of the country’s finest works. If you want to cut to the chase through more than 150 rooms full of beauties, head for Rembrandt’s magnificent The Night Watch (1642) on the upper floor (Room 224).

The enormous king-size canvas is the artist’s best-known painting, one of the world’s most famous, and has a grand hall all to itself. It is the piv­otal point around which this turreted neo-Gothic museum was designed in 1885 by P. J. H. Cuypers.

It houses the largest and finest collection of Dutch paintings anywhere in the world. Adjoining rooms showcase Rembrandt’s sensitive Jewish Bride (1662) and Self-Portrait as the Apostle Paul (1661); there are twenty- one of his works in all. Other rooms on the top floor are no less impressive, with works by Jan Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jacob van Ruisdale, among many others.

Dating from a decree in 1808 by Louis Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, the astonishing collection of the 17th-century Dutch golden age has long been the uncontested drawing card of “The Rijks.” But it is strong in other areas as well—it has an impressive collection of delftware, and its extensive Asian art col­lection (with some 100 Buddhas from all over the East) gets the attention it merits thanks to a 1996 face-lift of the South Wing.

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