AMSTERDAM: The world-famous Rijksmuseum is teaming up with two other Amsterdam institutions to exhibit around 30 “giant” Golden Age paintings, similar to Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch,” together for the first time.
“These are the biggest group portraits of the 17th century, literally giant paintings,” Amsterdam Museum director Paul Spies told AFP of the permanent exhibition to be completed by the end of the year.
The Rijksmuseum, home to the world’s finest collection of Dutch old masters, and the Amsterdam Museum will supply the paintings while the Hermitage Amsterdam will provide a vast room for the works to go on display.
“Some of these paintings are around 8 meters wide,” Hermitage director Cathelijne Broers said, adding: “An enormous room was necessary, and we had one available in the Hermitage building.”
The Hermitage Amsterdam was built in the 17th century when the Dutch dominated world trade and were flush with cash to spend on paintings, many of them as vast as they are self-aggrandizing.
The paintings are also hugely symbolic, paid for by the powerful guilds, militias or city officials they portray and displayed in official buildings where they would impress or intimidate visitors.
The museums describe the works as “classmates” of “The Night Watch,” which will remain the Rijksmuseum’s centerpiece.
A more modestly sized – roughly 1-meter square – fragment from Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Deijman,” repeatedly cut down during its history, will go on display at the Hermitage.
The selection of paintings to be exhibited has not yet been finalized, but will include works by Nicolaes Eliasz and Adriaen Backer, organizers said.
“Moving these works is a real logistical challenge, the paintings will have to enter the building through holes that we will make in the roof,” Spies said.
“They certainly won’t fit in through the doors!”
The museums hope the permanent exhibition will open toward the end of November.