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Detail from Vermeer's Music Lesson
This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

An Introduction to Dutch Art in the Royal Collection

During the seventeenth century the royal families of Great Britain and the Netherlands became connected. In 1613 James I's daughter, Elizabeth Stuart, married Frederick V, Elector Palatine, who was the grandson of William I of Orange. Then in 1641 Charles I's daughter, Mary, married William II of Orange; in 1677 their son, William III, married James II's daughter Mary. In 1688 the couple seized the British throne during the Glorious Revolution and established the system of constitutional monarchy which survives to this day.

Charles I, Henrietta Maria and Charles, Prince of Wales (later Charles II)©

Throughout this same period the British monarchy brought Dutch painters to London. They liked painters of ‘perspectives’, ships and portraits in the style of Van Dyck. These works performed a specific function, but they did not compete in status with the idealised classic scenes for which these same monarchs looked to Italy. Some individual paintings by the greatest names of the Dutch Golden Age were brought to England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it was not until the nineteenth century that they were collected in earnest. In the first three decades of the century George IV formed one of the world's most important collections of portraits, landscapes, genre and religious scenes by Cuyp, Dou, Steen, De Hooch and Rembrandt.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.