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Dutch Art and Antiques Highlights from the collection at the Residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands


of the Ambassador

The building at 2347 S Street dates from 1929, and is a Neo-Classical Revival designed by Washington architect Ward Brown. The Residence was built by Mr. Wilmar Bolling, brother of Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, for Mr. and Mrs. Ownsley. In 1944, the Netherlands government purchased the building and shortly thereafter it became the Residence for the Netherlands Ambassador. In the early 1990’s, an international team of architects and engineers, led by the Dutch architectural firm of Brasser, Teeuwisse and Willems, restored all principal rooms to their original configurations and splendor. New quarters were created on the third floor for the Ambassador’s family and for Her Majesty the Queen when she visits. The beautiful exterior façade and period details throughout the interior of the building, including the ornamental ceiling in the library and the fine wood moldings in the dining and drawing rooms, are the most visible results of this five-year undertaking.  Less noticeable, yet essential, was the installation of a new, museum-quality climate control which ensures an optimal environment for the valuable works of art displayed throughout the Residence.     The Residence houses a splendid collection of Netherlandish and Dutch Masters paintings, as well as numerous antiques, all representing the rich artistic heritage of the Netherlands.

Cover: Exterior of the residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands

Entrance Hall The architectural highlight of the entrance hall is the marble staircase modeled after the one from le Petit Trianon in the Palace of Versailles. However, it is the modestly scaled paintings that announce the wealth and variety of works of art awaiting the visitor.

The entrance hall, with its flowing marble staircase and intricate balustrade.

Still Life with Flowers by the nineteenth-century painter Jan Evert Morel II (1835-1905), whose luxuriant composition and fresh colors attest to the lasting legacy of seventeenth-century masters of this genre among later artists.

A charming Portrait of a Young Woman by Isaac Israels (1865-1934). Like his fellow Impressionists from Amsterdam, Israels was renowned for his interest in the fleeting moments of daily life, which he captured in sketch-like compositions of great verve and immediacy.

A Continental Late Neo-classical Style “Empire” pedestal form mahogany pier table with frieze drawer, c. 1825, conserved in 2007.

The furniture collection of the Ambassador’s residence exemplifies the assemblage of objects from various periods and styles often found in the grand houses in the Netherlands and throughout Europe. As successive generations resided in these homes, additions were made to the furnishings and décor that resulted in an eclectic, but interesting mix of objects with a shared association to a single family and their cultural heritage. This long term accumulation of significant objects over time led to the popularity of Eclecticism in the production of the objects and in the decorating of homes. This collection features examples from the 17th to the 20th centuries produced in the Netherlands and Europe and illustrates an historical survey of the prevailing styles over the centuries: Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical and Classical (Empire).

One of a pair of Dutch William II Period Pedestals by J.F. Mons, 1871, conserved in 2007.

A Continental Late Neo-classical Style “Empire” pedestal form mahogany pier table with applied floral carving and “ripple molding”, c. 1830, conserved in 2007.

The modern flower tapestry was commissioned by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Residence and is the work of Dutch artist Martin van Vreden (1952 - ) who lives and works in Amsterdam. It showcases a predominant subject in Netherlandish art, the flower. It was woven as part of an occupational therapy project for disabled adults in a social work center in Tiburg and completed in 2000.

Upper Landing Grand Staircase

A Late Napoleon III Period French Louis XV style gilt center table, c. 1860, conserved in 2007.

Seventeenth Century silk and wool Gobelin tapestries on either side of the stair well. Gobelin tapestries (French/ Flemish) were the finest in the world in the 17th and 18th centuries.

One of a pair of Northern Italian Umberto I Period Demi-lune marquetry mahogany, walnut, tulipwood, and various light and dark woods with Carrera marble top petite commodes; c. 1880, conserved in 2007.

One of a pair of Dutch William III Period or Continental Rococo Style oak carved and parcel gold paint decorated pier tables, c. 1850.

Drawing Room

The Drawing Room is a veritable gallery of landscape paintings by seventeenth and eighteenth-century masters.

Majestic Nocturnal Scene was painted by Aert van der Neer (1603-1677). Like many artists of this period, van der Neer had a heightened interest in depicting the various aspects of the Dutch landscape. Yet, he was one of the few who chose the realm of night as his main theme, leaving behind a body of work unrivaled in its capacity to evoke light and its reflections.

View of Valkhof by Jan van Goyen.

Majestic Nocturnal Scene by Aert van der Neer.

Stormy Landscape by Henri van Assche.

Landscape near Leiden by Anthonie Jansz van der Croos.

Peasant Cottage near Water by Jan van Goyen.

Landscape by JP Schoeff (17th Century).

A contemporary produced View of Valkhof near Nijmegen. Jan van Goyen (15961656) was the best-known painter of his generation. This prolific master worked both in his native Leiden, Haarlem, as well as The Hague. Like many artists of his day, he based his paintings on drawings made during nature walks, often re-using the same motifs in different compositions. His finest works are characterized by great freshness and luminosity, which is particularly remarkable considering his restricted tonal palette.

Similarly, one can admire another “tonal landscape” from the middle of the seventeenth-century, Peasant Cottage Near Water. Currently attributed to Jan van Goyen, this work has often been associated with one of his followers, Jan Coelenbier (c. 1600-1677). Such unresolved questions of authorship demonstrate the degree to which Dutch painters of the golden age looked at, and learned from, one another in pursuing thematic and stylistic qualities that had found favor in their dynamic art market.

The appeal of this genre during the Romantic period is illustrated by Stormy Landscape, a work by the Flemish painter Henri van Assche (1774-1841). Active principally in his native Brussels, van Assche shared the interest of his predecessors in nature’s variety — from its most pastoral to its most dramatic manifestations — as exemplified by this transformation of a peaceful ride through a forest into an encounter with its uncontrollable powers.

Consider also Landscape near Leiden by Anthonie Jansz van der Croos (16031663). Though profoundly different from van Goyen’s Landscape near Nijmegen, this composition affirms the premium on realism both in terms of atmosphere and topography. At the same time, the prevalence of idyllic views of cities and countryside may also reflect the cultural pride in the Dutch republic, whose seventeenth-century prosperity had been won after decades of struggle not only against mighty political opponents, but against nature itself.

One of a pair of hand made French Louis XV Style bombĂŠ form mahogany, tulipwood, walnut, and light and dark woods parquetry with Bardiglio marble tops bronze mounted two drawer commodes, c. 1900, conserved 2008.

An English Late George III Period or Early George IV Period Regency round pedestal form rosewood center table with a rayed veneered and inlaid top, c. 1820, conserved in 2007.

Dining Room The paintings exhibited in this part of the Residence underscore the thematic and stylistic variety of visual culture in seventeenth-century Holland. Two works in particular permit visitors to enjoy slice-oflife images rich with symbolic meanings. The first one is the Street Musicians by Cornelis Dusart (1660-1704). Like Adriaen van Ostade and Jan Steen, Dusart specialized in scenes from the daily life of common folk, which he captured with deceptive spontaneity. For viewers of the period, however, the joy in music was also symbolic of the transience of life, as well as the power of art to provide a temporary respite from that reality. Similar ideas are expressed in Birdsnest by Philip van Dijk (1680-1753), one of the late representatives of the Leiden school of “fine painters” (fijnschilders) that included such accomplished masters as Gerard Dou and Frans van Mieris. Here is another image akin to a snap-shot that is, in fact, a carefully constructed visual essay. The kitchen maid preparing dinner and eagerly listening to the message of the young lad represents the pleasures of the senses. Yet this “stolen exchange” is also reflected in the ability of the painter to provide similar delights through his finely crafted pictorial illusions.

Street Musicians by Cornelis Dusart.

Birdsnest by Philip van Dijk.

Winter Landscape was produced by Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraten (1622-1666), a painter specializing in coastal and river landscapes. As with most of his peers, Beerstraeten could celebrate in his landscapes the vitality of the natural world even in the dead of winter, the industriousness of its human inhabitants, and their ability to find joy even in the most mundane settings.

One of a harlequin (non-matching) pair of Continental Louis XVI Style marquetry and parquetry mahogany and mixed light and dark woods bronze mounted commodes, c. 1900, conserved 2008.

View of a Harbor is a work by Abraham Storck (1644-1708), an Amsterdam painter whose father and three brothers belonged to the same profession. His harbor scenes and topographical views were in such demand that they often necessitated the assistance of members of his studio. In addition to documenting an important aspect of daily life, the maritime imagery addressed another favorite theme of the period — the glory, as well as the unpredictability of seafaring — where the dream of prosperity can turn suddenly to tragedy.

Winter Landscape by Abrahamsz Beerstarten.

View of a Harbor by Abraham Storck.

View of Harbor by Abraham Storck.

A custom designed and built Late Baroque/Early Rococo Style solid figured African mahogany 22.5 foot long expansion dining table with eight leaves, built in 2008.

A Dutch Wilhelmina Period Reproduction Neo-Classical Style English inlaid mahogany sideboard labeled Heldense Group, c. 1920.

Do not allow the modestly scaled Still Life with Citrus Fruit to escape your attention. This unattributed piece datable to the early decades of the eighteenth century attests to the continued appeal of the fine rendering of the various facets of the world — whether a distant cityscape or a closely observed piece of a precious, imported fruit. Yet it is the larger floral work that rewards the beholder with the greatest visual opulence in this room. This is The Summer: Still Life with Flowers by Adriana Johanna Haanen (1814-1895), a nineteenth-century woman artist and member of the Royal Academy, renowned for lush floral and game still life compositions. Though painted much later than most of the works in the residence, this composition, where the beauty of an ornate classical vase “competes” with the luxurious colors and textures of summer blooms, serves as an eloquent conclusion to one of the most important themes in seventeenth-century Dutch art — that the myriad facets of the world (whether natural or man-made) would always remain the greatest challenge, as well as a source of inspiration, for any true painter.

Still Life with Citrus Fruit, artist unknown.

The Summer: Still Life with Flowers by Adriana Johanna Haanen.

(above) A Dutch William V Period Rococo bombĂŠ form mahogany dressing cupboard (Kabinetkast) with applied floral carving, and original ormolu drawer hardware; c. 1730, conserved 2008. The upper section has fitted shelves and drawers; the lower section, in addition to the facing drawers, has a pivoting door on each shaped end which opens to reveal a series of small valuables drawers. (left) One of a pair of manufactured American Late Neo-Classical Style two drawer mahogany servers with shelf, c. 1900.

Library The spectacular polychromed ornamental plaster ceiling was original to the house in 1929 but was sacrificed to heating and cooling pipes in the 1950s. In the 1990s, it was painstakingly restored to its original splendor. The massive walnut and glass doors to the terrace were also a result of the recent restoration.

Portrait of a Lady, by Paul Moreelse (1577-1638).

A Dutch Late William II Period Renaissance/Early Baroque walnut refectory table (Refectorium Tabel), c. 1650, conserved 2008.

Website: Artwork text and descriptions by Dr. Aneta Georgievska-Shine Furniture photography and text summaries by Bruce M. Schuettinger Graphic design by Now You See It Design All rights reserved Q 2010

Dutch art and antiques  

Highlights from the collection at the residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands

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