Maritime Masterpieces

Boijmans Van Beuningen sets sail to the Maritime Museum

As Boijmans Van Beuningen is closed for eight years due to a drastic renovation, its collection travels to various museums in the Rotterdam region. Maritime Masterpieces brings together works from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Maritime Museum.

This exhibition tells the stories of shipping and harbours and the people in it thru six centuries of painting and objects. Containing a unique collection from well-known names as Hieronymus Bosch, Hendrik Avercamp, Jozef Israëls, Claude Monet and Paul Signac meet modern works by Dolf Henkes, Guido van de Werve and Sasja Hagens. Dating from the 16th to the 21st century.

From art-historical and marine perspectives, the exhibition tells the tale of shipping and ports over the last six centuries, as well as people’s lived experiences in these settings.

In the Maritime Museum, located at Rotterdam’s historic Leuvehaven harbour, visitors can follow how maritime life has evolved over the centuries. Each painting, ship model, drawing or artefact tells a tale about maritime and port life. This reveals art-historical connections between various styles but tells the underlying human stories too.

The cradle of marine painting

The emergence of landscape painting, a typically Dutch phenomenon, formed the cradle of marine painting. Marine painters such as Ludolf Bakhuizen, Willem van de Velde the Younger and Jan van de Cappelle, who were contemporaries of Rembrandt and Vermeer, excelled at using the best qualities of marine painting in works that conjoin atmosphere, poetry, maritime life and seascape.

Looking at Maritime Masterpieces. Photo: Marco de Swart
Looking at Maritime Masterpieces. Photo: Marco de Swart

Industrialisation also gets a look-in: from the first steamship to scientific expeditions to Nova Zembla – everything was captured on canvas. Dutch maritime painters such as Josef Israëls and Hendrik Mesdag reflect the simple lives of fisherfolk. French painters like Signac came to the Netherlands in search of the seascape they knew from paintings but were also inspired by unfamiliar scenes in the port of Rotterdam. The exhibition also touches the present day, as artists including Frank Stella and Sasja Hagens draw inspiration from interpreting ports as a metaphor for vigour, desire, life.

This exhibition is the last one in the series Boijmans Next Door. Because of the renovation of the museum parts of the collection have been shown at eight neighbouring locations. Around five hundred masterpieces were to see at other locations. The exhibitions in these guest venues create encounters between Boijmans’ collection and those of its neighbours. Boijmans Next Door has been made possible by Stichting Droom en Daad.

Maritime Masterpieces can be visited till September 4, 2022 in the Maritime Museum.
Leuvehaven 1

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday and public holidays: 11am – 5pm


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