The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will put works by women artists of the 17th-century on permanent display in its central Gallery of Honor for the first time in its over 220-year history. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, three paintings—two portraits and one still life—by Judith Leyster, Gesina ter Borch, and Rachel Ruysch will be hung alongside pieces by Frans Hals, Jan Vermeer, and Rembrandt.
The decision comes as the Rijksmuseum and other encyclopedic art institutions around the world work to fill in gaps in their collections and exhibitions. Following its temporary, pandemic-related closure, the Rijksmuseum will open a presentation focused on the colonial past of the Netherlands.
“By asking ourselves questions and by studying various sources and objects, in addition to their exhibition, we try to give a more complete picture of the Netherlands,” Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, told El País.
Jenny Reynaerts, curator of 19th-century painting at the museum, told the newspaper that the “permanent collection offers an image of culture with little female perspective.”
The works going on view in the Gallery of Honor include Leyster’s The Serenade (1629), which depicts a musician gazing toward a lover; Ruysch’s Still Life with Flowers in a Glass Vase (ca. 1690), one of the works that made the artist famous as a still life painter during her lifetime; and ter Borch’s Portrait in memory of Moses ter Borch (1667–69), which was created to memorialize her deceased brother.
This latest initiative to situate works by women artists in central spaces is not the only news out of the Rijksmuseum in recent months. Last fall, the museum’s director voiced support for the creation of a repatriation apparatus in the Dutch government.