By Maria Gkika,
A couple of weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Mauritshuis art museum in the heart of The Hague, Netherlands. With an impressive world-famous main collection of over 250 Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th century, it is a unique museum that enables the visitor to enjoy the works of so many different artists in the same place and get a complete cultural experience. However, the celebration of the 200-year anniversary of the museum’s start has many special expositions in store, that promise to make all the difference! Having just visited the Mauritshuis’s In Full Bloom (Dutch: In Volle Bloei), I can say with certainty that this small museum has prepared several fascinating surprises.
First, it is pertinent to say a few words about the museum’s formidable main collection. Originally, the private residence of Count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, Mauritshuis houses works by some of the biggest Dutch painters like Rembrandt, Rubens, and Vermeer. Masterpieces such as the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665), The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632), and The Goldfinch (1654), are artfully displayed in the illustrious rooms of the monumental building.
The historical and elegant ambiance immerses visitors in the 17th century and the world of Dutch Masters of the Golden Age. What is more, the museum’s free app allows them to discover even the hidden details behind the paintings’ incredible stories. While it was Prince William V who established the basis of the collection in the 18th century, subsequently more works are added to the collection, even to this day.
This year, Mauritshuis welcomes spring in the most spectacular way. The exhibition In Full Bloom presents the most striking flower still living from the 17th century, a period in which the genre became immensely popular. Beautiful paintings portray a series of magnificent colorful bouquets with a huge variety of flowers that are rare and exotic.
These paintings are so realistic and lifelike, that if they were not for the impossible combinations, one could forget that most of them are products of the artist’s minds and talent. Through art, the limits of nature are surpassed, and the beauty of blooms is immortalized. By reading detailed descriptions and bits of historical facts, visitors get to discover why flower still life paintings suddenly became so popular.
They also come to understand how scientific research played a big part in the flourishing of this genre. Also, the exhibition pays special attention to female artists who made a name in this genre and played a major role in the development of botanical science. Having the chance to take a look at the drawings from three volumes of the Moninckx Atlas (1686) of the Hortus Botanicus of Amsterdam was exceptional. Science and art are closely connected and guided by nature. Respect for nature is also shown by another outstanding feature of high sustainable significance. In the exhibition room, the walls are actually made from flower waste from the bulb industry!
All in all, the exhibition In Full Bloom was one of my favorite parts of my visit to the Mauritshuis museum. Even the outside space of the museum is in tune with the theme of the exhibition. Inspired by Jan Davidsz de Heem’s Vase with Flowers (1670), the Mauritshuis will be adorned with sustainable imitation flowers added every few weeks throughout the year, thus creating a massive multi-colored bouquet. A perfect starting point for a day trip or weekend away in The Hague, In Full Bloom can be visited until June 6, 2022, in the Mauritshuis. If you are close by, do not miss it!
- The Mauritshuis’s official page, mauritshuis.nl, Available here
- Mauritshuis – Selected exhibits, wikipedia.org, Available here