The Amsterdam Museum has a rich collection. View some examples on this page or browse through our online collection (partly Dutch).
Bird's-Eye View of Amsterdam, c. 1538, Cornelis Anthonisz. (c. 1507-after 1553).
This is the oldest surviving plan of Amsterdam. It was commissioned by the governors of the city and hung in the Town Hall for many years. In this painting, south points up and north points down.
Pietà, c. 1450, Anonymous.
The pietà depicts the Virgin Mary lamenting the dead Christ. This statue was found inside a coffin during excavations in the graveyard of the former cloister of St Gertrude, on Amsterdam's Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. The cloister appears to have been built shortly before 1432.
Annual Procession of the Lepers on Printers Monday, 1633, Adriaan van Nieulandt (1587-1658).
After 1604 lepers were forbidden to collect alms on Printers Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany. This painting from 1633 records the old tradition for posterity. Printers Monday or ''Koppertjesmaandag'' was a festive occasion in Amsterdam. The name is derived from an old Dutch word meaning to eat and enjoy. On that Monday, lepers were allowed to collect alms in the city. In 1633 Adriaan van Nieulandt completed the commission from the governors of the leper house to paint the defunct procession. The lepers, some walking, others on horse-drawn sleighs, are holding rattles. This was to warn the public to keep their distance. In the foreground, on the right, town criers advertise the lottery in aid of the asylum.
The IJ in Winter, c. 1635, Arent Arentsz., known as Cabel (1585/86-1631).
The exact year in which Arent Arentsz Cabel painted this work is not known, but it is not unlikely that it was the winter of 1621 that inspired him. That year the frost was so severe that the IJ and even the Zuiderzee froze over. Arent Arentsz. got his nickname Cabel from his parental home on Zeedijk. He occupies an unusual place in Dutch art history, being the first to depict the polder landscape. Winter scenes belonged to this genre. This depiction of people enjoying themselves on the ice is one of Cabel's finest winter paintings. It is shown from the north bank of the IJ, where today the ferry from the city centre docks. By using a wide canvas, Cabel was able to show the city''s entire skyline, including Montelbaan tower and the now no longer extant Haringpakkers tower.
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Jan Deijman, 1656, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669).
Rembrandt''s anatomy lesson is a fragment of a group portrait, the original composition of which is preserved in a small sketch. In 1723 part of the canvas was destroyed by fire. The remaining central section shows Dr Jan Deijman dissecting a brain while his assistant holds the top of the skull. Rembrandt depicted the corpse with exaggerated foreshortening so that the operating table appears to protrude out of the picture. The autopsy is taking place in a theatre, centred on the operating table as the audience views from a circular wooden platform. Originally, the picture would have given the viewer a sense of standing in the middle of the theatre. Dr Jan Deijman (1619-1666) was appointed praelector anatomiae (lecturer in anatomy) of the surgeons guild in 1653. He was also inspector of the Collegium Medicum, that supervised health care in the city. The man beside Deijman is the surgeon Gijsbert Calkoen (1621-1664). His task was to assist the praelector. The dead man was Joris Fonteijn (1633/34-1656), known as Black Jack. Fonteijn was a Flemish tailor who had been condemned to the gallows on 17 January 1656. His body was given to the surgeons guild after the execution.
The Gouden Leeuw on the IJ at Amsterdam, 1686, Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633-1707).
The bustling harbour of Amsterdam is depicted here across the IJ. The Gouden Leeuw [Golden Lion] is moored in the foreground. Willem van de Velde the Younger was the leading painter of marine subjects in the seventeenth century. Van de Velde painted this panorama in 1686. That was the year in which the former flagship of Admiral Cornelis Tromp was dismantled. The late afternoon sunlight from the west creates a dramatic setting for the splendid vessel, its masts and sails contrasting with the cloudy sky. The skyline is shown in the back-ground: to the left of the Gouden Leeuw lies the dock and storehouse of the Dutch East India Company while to the right stands the East church, the naval depot (today''s Maritime Museum), the Montelbaan tower, the Schreier tower and the spire of South church. The state yacht Rotterdam is firing a salute. Van de Velde studied under his father, Willem van de Velde the Elder, and Simon de Vlieger. In 1672, after years of painting for Dutch patrons, the Van de Veldes moved to London to pursue better prospects. Willem van de Velde the Younger visited Amsterdam in 1686. Perhaps he painted this picture for the harbour commissioners. They held their meetings in one of the buildings shown here, the Schreier tower, where this painting hung for many years.
Model of an eastindiaman being transported on a ship''s camel, c. 1742, Anonymous.
In March 1742 the directors of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) decided to build a new type of ship. The largest class of eastindiaman, then 145 feet long, was extended to 150 feet from prow to stern. The other classes were respectively 135 and 120 feet long. The new improved ships were slimmer and lighter than their predecessors and the holds were larger. It was important that these ships, unlike earlier types, were built according to models and instructions. The British shipbuilder Charles Bentam, who worked for the Amsterdam Admiralty, was commissioned to make ship models and design drawings for all the VOC chambers. In this way the board hoped to standardise production. A copy of each of the eighteenth-century models still exists: those of the 120 footer and 150 footer are in the Rijksmuseum collection; a model of the 136 footer is in the Aust-Agder Museum, Norway. Amsterdam harbour was difficult for deep vessels to enter. There were sandbanks in the Zuyder Zee and a shallow passage called Pampus at the mouth of the IJ. In order to tow the deep ships in, huge wooden boxes filled with water were attached at either side of the ship and then pumped empty. The air-filled construction raised the ship out of the water, allowing it to be towed safely through the shallows of the IJ and the Zuyder Zee. Around 1690 this method was improved. The wooden boxes were replaced with ships camels. These were long caissons that encased the ship's hull. When full of air they raised the ship out of the water. Small tugs then pulled the camel and its burden through the IJ or Zuyder Zee. On loan from Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Orphanage Girls Going to Church, c. 1895, Nicolaas van der Waaij (1855-1936).
Nicolaas van der Waaij was fascinated by the timeless ambience of the girls at Amsterdam's civic orphanage. He made a series of paintings and drawings of models dressed in the red and black orphanage uniforms. His work has an unreal quality, probably bearing little relation to the actual life of the orphanage. This picture depicts the procession to church on a Sunday. Each week the boys and girls walked in a long line from the orphanage to the West church on Prinsengracht or to the New Church on Dam Square. The orphans had their own benches in church.
Snotnose barrel organ
On 7 May 1945, two days after the liberation, a large crowd gathered on Dam Square waiting for the Allied army to enter. Snotnose, a Perlee barrel organ was ready for the celebrations. But not all the Germans had fled. Marines had taken refuge in the club building on the corner of Kalverstraat and Paleisstraat. Suddenly they opened fire on the crowd. Panic stricken, people dashed into alleys and hid behind lampposts, carts and the barrel organ. Twenty-two people were killed and around 120 wounded. Later, when the instrument was restored, two bullets were found inside. In 1992 Snotnose, the silent witness of the events of 7 May 1945, was given to the Amsterdam Museum.