The museum’s highlight: the Night watch
The Rijksmuseum’s collections contain many masterpieces from the Golden Age, including the painting known as The Jewish bride and various self-portraits, such as Self-portrait as the apostle Paul. The highlight of any visit to the Rijksmuseum is of course the Night watch from 1642, the pièce de résistance of the Gallery of Honour. The painting is special because Rembrandt portrayed the characters in action, something that no one had ever done before. It is also the largest and most famous painting by the artist.
The Milkmaid in the spotlight
The Rijksmuseum also features works by Johannes Vermeer, another 17th-century Dutch Master. Vermeer had a unique talent for illuminating the subjects in his work. There are a remarkable number of paintings that depict light pouring in through a window on the left side of the painting. One of the most famous examples of this is undoubtedly the painting The Milkmaid. In addition to this masterpiece, the Rijksmuseum displays 3 more paintings by Vermeer, including the famous work View of houses in Delft (also known as The little street).
The Merry Drinker by Frans Hals
Daily life in the 17th century
The list of 17th-century Dutch Masters is not complete without the expressive portraits by Frans Hals, including Portrait of a couple and the painting known as The Merry Drinker. Hals was especially famous for his casual painting style, described by his contemporaries as a ‘rough style’. Also casual, but in a very different way, are the works by Jan Steen. This painter is mostly famous for his genre pieces that depict jolly and cheerful subjects, such as The Drunken Couple and The Merry Family.