CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Constantijn & Christiaan Huygens

Constantijn & Christiaan Huygens Exhibition: 25 April - 28 August 2013

From the exhibition website, 15 November 2012

From April 25th till August 28th 2013, the Grote Kerk (Grand Church) in The Hague will be the venue for a special exhibition about two exceptional men of the Dutch Golden Age: Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens. Father Constantijn and his son Christiaan came from a warm, close-knit family that valued a broad-minded approach to parenting and freedom. This family was the fertile ground that fed the work of two exceptional men in a great and glorious age. In the mid-17th century, the Republic of the Seven United Provinces was one of the worldā€™s most powerful states, whose fleet was huge and whose trade extended to the farthest corners of the earth.

Exceptional, versatile and innovative

Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens were exceptional men of enterprise and discovery. Both were influential, innovative, brilliant and authoritative in many different fields. Constantijn was a masterful networker, art expert, poet and advisor to the stadtholders, and his son Christiaan was a scientific genius in mathematics, physics and astronomy. They were also competent at successfully marketing their scientific discoveries and artistic taste. The Huygens Exhibition shows that it pays to look beyond the established boundaries and embrace innovative thinking.

The most striking piece in the exhibition is a full-sized replica of the Oranjezaal in Huis ten Bosch, the residential palace of the Queen of the Netherlands. The origins of the Oranjezaal and its impressive series of paintings is the undisputed highlight of Dutch painting during the Netherlandsā€™ Golden Age. It also represents the prime example of Constantijnā€™s incredible cultural talents, on account of his active involvement in conceiving the programmeā€™s structure.

The aim was to lend a royal air to the House of Orange and win England over as an ally, and the results were glorious: a Dutch king ascended to the English throne. In the same period, Christian met Sir Isaac Newton, his great role model, and became a widely acclaimed inventor and scientist in the Netherlands and beyond.

Both Huygens, father and son, had a profound influence that continues right up to the present day. The exhibition shows how warmth and ambition converged in this exceptional family, producing free spirits who brought about immense and permanent change.


The exhibition in the Grote Kerk in The Hague will be a spectacular show about the House of Orange, the gold in our Golden Age, and the revolutionary scientific progress achieved in that period. The combination of political history, science and the arts make the Huygens Exhibition unique, providing full immersion in the context of the times rather than a classic exhibition. Quite an experience, as the English might say.