It is often overlooked by visitors: Museum Bredius – the small museum opposite the Mauritshuis in The Hague. It usually exhibits works by Dutch Golden Age artists like Jan Steen, from its own collection. Now, it offers tourists and ‘Hagenaars’ a unique chance to see a private collection of Dutch Golden Age marine paintings.

All exhibited works except one, displayed on an easel on the 1st floor, are from the Inder Rieden Collection. The exception is a marine bought by Mr. Abraham Bredius, the Mauritshuis’ first director.

The other nearly 70 works, were collected by Mr. Anthony Inder Rieden. Now residing in London, he fell in love with the beach and sea near Haarlem. After moving to Great Britain in 1965, he started collecting art. His friend, The Hague art-dealer John Hoogsteder, advised him to combine his love of the sea with his love of art and collect marines from the Dutch Golden Age.

Now the result of collecting works in this niche is exhibited for the first and perhaps only time, at Museum Bredius. Though three of the paintings are usually on loan and exhibited at museums, the remainder have never before left Great Britain.

You may well ask: seascapes, marines, all those ships, a man-of-war? My first thoughts too; but jut one room  sufficed to convince me. Especially the ground floor chambers where marines by the best Dutch painters of the era are hanging against a golden shimmering background: simply stunning! And there are more on the first floor!

At the museum’s desk, you will be handed a small booklet with information in Dutch. Museum staff assured me, an audio tour in English will soon be available too. Moreover, the English catalogue, consisting of four large books, is available. In most of the rooms one of the four books lies on a table, waiting for visitors to browse. The catalogue alone took 14 years to compile.

As for the paintings: here are samples of battles, home-comings or starts of voyages, important historic events, just a quiet day at a river – by the likes of father and son Van de Velde, De Vlieger, Van Goyen, Storck, Verbeeck, Backhuysen, Vroon – and plenty others.

Falling under the spell of Dutch Golden Age marine paintings? Like Mr. Inder Rieden, you are not the first one! Many of the works were once part of important collections. These works were bought by the likes of the Duc de Choiseul and the British branch of the Rothschild family.

Love the painted Dutch skies too? Mr. Inder Rieden asked German meteorologist Franz Ossing to have a look at the works and their weather conditions. Many artists not only painted ships minutely, they also included weather conditions which may still occur around the North Sea.

Though … some artists took liberties and introduced ‘alternative facts’. Which ones? Find out yourself, by visiting Museum Bredius to admire examples from the Dutch Golden Age in marine painting.

Kate visited The Hague’s Museum Bredius on behalf of TheHagueOnline.

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Image courtesy Museum Bredius: detail from “Scheveningen Beach” by Jan van Gooyen – in this exhibition.