CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Hollanders in huis. Vermeer en tijdgenoten uit de Britse Royal Collection

At Home in Holland. Vermeer and his Contemporaries from the British Royal Collection Exhibition: 29 September 2016 - 5 February 2017

The exhibition is extended through 5 February 2017.

From the museum’s press release, 19 May 2015

A royal visit from Great Britain: in the autumn of 2016, the Mauritshuis will exhibit a selection of seventeenth-century Dutch paintings from the British Royal Collection. The selection contains representations of daily life as depicted by painters of the Dutch Golden Age, and offers an exceptional chance to see over twenty masterpieces from the Royal Collection, the largest loan to a Dutch museum to date. The Royal Collection, held in trust by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, contains unique highlights from the oeuvres of famous painters such as Gerard ter Borch, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, and Jan Steen. The highlight of the exhibition is The Music Lesson by Johannes Vermeer.

About the exhibition

The exhibition covers a broad selection of the best Dutch genre paintings from the Royal Collection. It includes 22 paintings from the British Royal Collection plus one belonging to the Mauritshuis, The Young Mother by Gerrit Dou.

This painting was part of the British Royal Collection until about 1700, and came into Dutch ownership through King and Stadholder William III. The highlights of the exhibition are Johannes Vermeer’s The Music Lesson and Jan Steen’s A Woman at her Toilet. Also featured are significant works by other grand masters of Dutch genre painting, such as Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Willem van Mieris and Gabriël Metsu.

The Music Lesson is one of 36 surviving and very rare pieces by Johannes Vermeer. This painting dates from 1660-1662 and shows a lady and a gentleman beside a virginal. Above the instrument hangs a mirror, in which we see the reflection of the foot of Vermeer’s easel. Music is undoubtedly a symbol of love in this painting, and this is confirmed by the Latin maxim on the virginal. The painting was acquired by King George III of England in 1762, but was attributed to Frans van Mieris the Elder at the time. Only later was it recognised as a piece by Vermeer.

Another of the exhibition’s highlights is a painting by Jan Steen, which dates from 1663. It was once known as A Woman at Her Toilet. In it we see a young woman who, judging by the indents above her calves, is not pulling her stocking on, but off, as her eyes meet those of the viewer. Here too, the context is seen as amorous. These representations were extremely popular in their day. Steen makes the point that the physical pleasures are transient by showing a skull in the door opening, under a lute with a broken string.


The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated Dutch and English language catalogue, published by Royal Collection Trust, the Mauritshuis and Mercatorfonds. The catalogue was written by the exhibition’s curators, Desmond Shawe-Taylor (Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Royal Collection Trust) and Quentin Buvelot (head curator at the Mauritshuis). Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer is currently available from the Mauritshuis museum shop.

Vermeer en zijn tijdgenoten
Hollandse genrestukken uit de Royal Collection

ISBN 978-94-6230-102-3

Masters of the Everyday
Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer

ISBN 978 94 6230 104 7

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