Skip to content

3 outdoor opportunities for art lovers thanks to The Frick Collection at The Mauritshuis

Ingres, Cimabue, Memling, Tiepolo, Goya, Van Eyck, Constable. Pure top names in art history and many of them hardly ever hang in Dutch museums. But now they do. The Mauritshuis in The Hague is showing no fewer than 36 works from the famous Frick Collection in New York from 5 February. And that museum has never before lent so many art treasures.

That is why the Mauritshuis has three special firsts.

1. The Frick Collection does not normally lend

The Frick Collection is one of the most important collections of European art in the United States. Founder Henry Clay Frick (1849-1929) became wealthy in the steel and coke industries. It was the 'Gilded Age', the 'gilded' era when industrial money caused a revival in the art trade. Frick collected art from Europe in his own way and had a neo-classical house built to serve as a museum after his death. On his death, he left his compatriots an impressive collection, from which, according to his will, nothing was to be loaned.

That the Mauritshuis still manages to show work from this Frick Collection is due to its past history. In autumn 2013, 15 masterpieces from the Mauritshuis hung in the Frick Collection. Among others, Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and Fabritius's Goldfinch visited New York on tour during the Mauritshuis's renovation. In those three months, the Frick Collection attracted more visitors than it normally does in a year. In return, the museum was keen to do something.

Mauritshuis director Emilie Gordenker must confess that she hesitated for a moment when she received the offer. After all, only works outside Frick's will were allowed to be loaned. Fortunately, plenty of interesting works remained. Partly because some 30 % of the collection were acquired after Frick's death, partly because some of his own purchases fell outside the bequest and were later donated to the museum by the family. The restriction does not apply to these works.

2. These artists are rarely seen in the Netherlands

What now hangs and stands in the Mauritshuis is of stunning quality and diversity. Besides paintings, there are flawless drawings from Goya to Rubens, applied art objects, such as a rare table clock, and sculptures, including Francesco Laurana's moving modern bust of Beatrice of Aragon, which dates from the late 15th century.

Ian Wardropper, director of the Frick Collection, welcomes this wide selection by Gordenker and curator Lea van der Vinde. 'We are building a house,'he says, 'not just a collection.' After all, like the Mauritshuis, the Frick Collection is housed in a former residence, with a relatively small but very high-quality collection. 'Size isn't everything,' says Gordenker jokingly.

In terms of period, the exhibition is also very comprehensive. Normally, the Mauritshuis mainly shows paintings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. In this exhibition, there are works from the 13th century (The Scourging of Christ by Cimabue) to the 19th century (Portrait of the Comtesse d'Haussonville by Ingres). The latter portrait is pretty much 'the Frick's Girl with a Pearl Earring' and adorns the poster. By many artists, such as Cimabue, Van Eyck, Gainsborough and Constable, no or very little work can normally be seen in the Netherlands. From Ingres even nothing at all.

Ian Wardropper, Emilie Gordenker and Lea van der Vinde at Jean Barbet's Angel (1475)
Ian Wardropper, Emilie Gordenker and Lea van der Vinde at Jean Barbet's Angel (1475) (author's photo)

3. Mauritshuis's new wing is now really up and running

There is also another first for the Mauritshuis: it is the first art exhibition in the new Royal Dutch Shell Wing. In summer 2014, the museum reopened after a major renovation and expansion. In the new wing, in an art deco building on the Plein, visitors then saw an overview of the building's history. For the first art exhibition, Jowa architects divided the hall into three parts. The exhibition design aimed to recreate the atmosphere of the Frick Collection in New York.

Also in the layout, the Mauritshuis tries to show what a private collection looked like in Frick's years. The art is therefore not arranged strictly chronologically or thematically. This works well. Clouds by Constable hang next to clouds by Ruisdael. Art from very different styles do unexpectedly well as neighbours.

How the museum can handle the expected large streams of visitors in the rather small space is still a matter of trial and error. A maximum number of people can enter the room at the same time, but the Mauritshuis is not working with timeslots for the time being.

Good to know

Frans van Hilten

I am a freelance cultural journalist. Because I think an independent cultural voice is important, I enjoy writing for this platform.View Author posts

Private Membership (month)
5€ / Maand
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Own mastodon account
Access to our archives
Small Membership (month)
18€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of less than €250,000 per year
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Posting press releases yourself
Extra attention in news coverage
Large Membership (month)
36€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of more than €250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Share press releases with our audience
Extra attention in news coverage
Premium Newsletter (substack)
5 trial subscriptions
All our podcasts

Payments are made via iDeal, Paypal, Credit Card, Bancontact or Direct Debit. If you prefer to pay manually, based on an invoice in advance, we charge a 10€ administration fee

*Only for annual membership or after 12 monthly payments

en_GBEnglish (UK)