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Museum Bredius
Lange Vijverberg 14
2513 AC Den Haag
T +31-70-3620729

This being the Rembrandt Year and it having been a while since my last visit, I decided to revisit Museum Bredius. It is located opposite the Mauritshuis. Visitors who have a Dutch Museumkaart or bought a The Hague Hofvijver Pass, visit for free.

The museum shows part of the private collection of Dr. Abraham Bredius (1855 – 1946). He studied history of art, became a museum curator and expert on Rembrandt. He was also director of Museum Mauritshuis from 1889 till 1909.

Inheriting a fortune, Bredius was able to collect art and add to the family collection. Some works of art on display, belonged to one of Bredius’ grand-fathers. Bredius left important works of art to the nation, but most of his art collection to The Hague – under strict conditions.

This is not a large, sprawling museum. It is situated in an 18th century period home. After entering, take time to admire the entrance hall. The restored interior is the perfect background for period furniture, Delftware, silver pieces and many works by well-known Dutch Golden Age artists.

Though Bredius’ collection contains works by over 150 artists, not all are permanently displayed. This is partly caused by the limited number of rooms and space. The collection also contains drawings and etchings which are vulnerable to light.

On the other hand, “Bredius only kept pieces which were of academic interest in the art history field, such as the only known landscape example by the seascape painter Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen, or a mutilated piece that was originally a biblical scene by Jan Steen … He tended to only keep the masterpieces … “.

The painting by Jan Steen has been completely restored. Near it, hangs another example of a work cut up to increase its “market value”. Unfortunately, Hendrick Aerts’ “Allegory on death” now misses stretches of canvas.

What fascinated me: this Flemish artist presumed to originate from Mechelen in Belgium, ended up working mainly in Gdańsk and Prague. It seems he accompanied his master to Gdańsk and later ended up working for Emperor Rudolf II, in Prague.

Perhaps you are more upset by all this cutting-up of what are now considered valuable masterpieces? Think of Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”. Like the two works displayed in Museum Bredius, it was once also reduced in size to fit in a specific space.

Among the many works which caught my eye during this visit, was a painting by Sybrand van Beest in the stairwell: “The pig market in the Hague” was created around 1650. Large pigs are lying with bound trotters on the cobbles.

At the time, the rich and less well-off picked a life boar or sow and had the beast butchered into convenient pieces. Think about this, next time you walk across this The Hague square, between Prinsengracht and Grote Markt.

While I visited, I was one of about five people leisurely wandering through this museum. Most people simply walk past. A real shame, for it exhibits drawings and etchings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Jacob van Ruysdael and other artists. The walls of the period rooms are hung with works by Cuyp, van Oostade, van Hoogstraeten, Buytenwech, Pothoven, van der Neer and many other important artists.

The museum also owns a rare perspective “box”; actually a complete cupboard. Worldwide, only six such 17th century “perspective boxes” remain. The scene is presumed to be one of the first showing a table set for a Dutch tea party, painted between 1660-1680.

Convinced you must visit too? The museum is occasionally closed for private parties. It will also close for a few weeks in September to reopen for the special exhibition “Masterly The Hague”, 19 – 22 September 2019.

Kate visited Museum Bredius for ArtsTalk Magazine at Easter 2019

General information

Museum Bredius is situated on the Hofvijver in an 18th century mansion, the private collection of Abraham Bredius with Rembrandt, Jan Steen, van Neer, ‘d Hoendecoeter, Hobbema and more.

When Abraham Bredius died in 1946 at the age of ninety, he bequeathed his vast collection of more than 200 paintings to the municipality of The Hague. At his departure to Monaco in 1924 he had turned his large house at 6 Prinsengracht into a museum. Until 1985 his collection of paintings, drawings, antique furniture, silverware, crystal and china had been on view for everyone. When the museum was closed the collection went into depot, but in 1990, on the initiative of a number of The Hague art lovers and with the support of sponsors, Museum Bredius opened its doors again, this time at Lange Vijverberg 14.

At present the restoration programme is almost finished, so that the largest and the best part of the collection of paintings can be shown to the public in all its colour and lustre with which it adorned the walls of the first owners three and four centuries ago. Bredius’ furniture and applied art were also returned to the museum, so that the domestic atmosphere of the place was retained.