Every year millions of people visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, drawn by its superb collection of Dutch masterpieces. Visitors with a maritime interest may be surprised to discover that the Rijksmuseum also has excellent exhibits of art and artifacts from Holland’s Golden Age of Sail.
The first indication of this comes in the large stained-glass windows that guests pass by on their way to the Hall of Honor. In one window stands a sturdy navigator, a sextant in his right hand. The Hall of Honor displays the best known and most popular works in the vast collection. Sharing this distinguished gallery with Rembrandt’s Night Watch and Vermeer’s Milkmaid is Willem van de Velde the Younger’s masterful Dutch Ships in a Calm Sea (1665). Van de Velde has captured the essence and detail of ship and crew and surrounded them with a gorgeous blue sky and flat sea.
Because much of Holland’s history derives from its connection with the sea, visitors will encounter maritime paintings throughout the museum. However, the greatest concentrations of maritime art and artifacts reside in gallery 2.15 and in the navy models collection in gallery 0.13.