Creating the World of the Dutch Golden Age

When you enter the exhibition Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection (on view at the Legion of Honor through October 2), you are immediately transported into the Dutch Golden Age.

Rosekrans Court has been transformed into The Great Hall of the Binnenhof, The Hague, during the Great Assembly of the States General in 1651, a reproduction of the eponymous painting by Dirck van Delen currently on loan to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Exhibition curator, Lynn Orr, collaborated with the Museums' graphic and exhibition designers to extend the artwork further into the viewer’s space by recreating the banners depicted in the painting and hanging them from the entryway ceiling. In this way, the entry quite literally sets the historical stage for rest of the exhibition.

The Painting

The painting was first enlarged to be a wall mural and then reproduced on photographic vinyl and finally applied to the gallery wall. Additional pier-shaped structures were built and the photo mural wraps around them, suggesting the three-dimensional space of the historic meeting hall.

It is an extraordinarily detailed enlargement. Close-up, you can see the brush strokes, washes, and effects of light captured by the painter in his recreation of the hall where Dutch burghers debated the political issues of the day.

In 1651, the Dutch stadholder (or head of state), Prince William II of Orange, died unexpectedly from smallpox. As a result, more than three hundred representatives of the Dutch provinces (deemed The States General) gathered in The Hague for this great assembly to debate the future of the newly independent Dutch Republic.

The Banners

To create a three-dimensional extension of the space portrayed in the painting, graphic designer Juliana Pennington used Photoshop to isolate and digitally recreate certain banners featured in the painting. Since several banners appear only as fragments, additional fabric was digitally reconstructed in the design process.

These flags represent regimental battle banners, or standardsótrophies, captured by Dutch forces during fifty years of land and sea battles. Most prominent is the insignia of Hapsburg Spain: a crowned coat of arms with the two lions of the Kingdom of León and the two towers of Castile surrounded by the chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece. The jagged cross of Burgundy, then a Hapsburg territory, is also featured. Great care was taken to reproduce the unique quality of each banner and its symbols.

If a trip to the Netherlands is out of your budget, head over to the Legion of Honor where you can step right into the Dutch Golden Age!