Matthijs Maris at the Rijksmuseum

From the 6th of October until the 7th of January 2018 the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will present an exhibition on the works of Matthijs Maris. The exhibition will show around 75 paintings, drawings, etchings and craftworks. It takes the visitor on a journey through the evolving style of Maris. Due to unique loans from the Burrel Collection from Glasgow, it is finally possible to present such a complete overview of his artistic works. This collection was gathered by Sir William Burrel (1861 – 1951), he was a shipping magnate who collected works from Matthijs Maris. When he died he left all of his belongings to the city of Glasgow on the condition that it would never cross the sea. Since the museum is now closed until 2020, the Scottish Parliament made an exception and loaned a number of works to the Rijksmuseum. A hundred years after the passing of Maris, his works will return to his fatherland.

Who was Matthijs Maris?

Matthijs Maris (1839-1917) lived in Paris and London. He grew up in an artistic family, as middle brother of artists Jacobus and Willem. Matthijs Maris and his brothers were members of the art movement called the ‘Hague School’. Matthijs took his own path, as well in themes as in his techniques. His style can be mostly characterized by fairy-tale like creatures, imposing landscapes and mysterious scenes. When his brother Jacob obtained a grant from Queen Sophie, he was able to follow Jacob to Antwerp. 4 years later, after returning to The Hague, they got another commission which enabled them, in 1860, to travel to Switzerland, France and back to The Netherlands. Back in The Netherlands he presented some of his works in Amsterdam and The Hague, but these were not well received. Through this experience he grew bitter and was withdrawing himself from painting. Vincent van Gogh (read more about him here) was one of Maris’ greatest admirers. He even appeared in front of Maris’ door in France to take a few painting lessons, sadly because Maris had turned bitter, he recommended Van Gogh ‘to do anything but paint’.

His work after the turning point

After moving to Paris to live with Jacob, as Maris was very alone, his style didn’t change a lot, and appeared more like the earlier period. Eventually when he was beyond irritated by the art world, he moved to London on an invitation of Scottish art dealer Daniel Cottier. Maris lived in London until his death in 1917. Not long after making new paintings, he started to distance himself from these works. He saw them as ‘potboilers’, paintings that are solely made for commercial purposes.
Besides making portraits, fairylike creatures and dreamy girls in dresses, he slowly began to start on paintings that didn’t need a story. He started to portray his views, dreams and memories. Like the famous painting ‘the butterflies’ (1874), which portrays a smiling, redheaded girl lying in the grass surrounded by flowers and butterflies. Other works of his were a number of brides in gray tones, fragile and portrayed like a dream. The portraits he made were mostly children of friends, an example is a fragile child in a white and grey coloured lace dress with yellow and blue ribbons. He also liked portraying children, combined or not, with animals. The portraits were a grey-brown tone, using many layers of dry loose paint. This way it appeared as though they were covered in mist. These images pictured on the canvasses were so faded that it was hard to see what you were looking at.

At the Rijksmuseum

After curator Jenny Reynaerts  investigated one of the paintings, her first thought was that they were failed pieces. But after more investigation, it turned out that it was a deliberate decision made by Maris. You can now see a complete overview of his oeuvre at the Rijksmuseum. Take a quick look at the mini documentary from MuseumTV to find out more about this exhibition.



Museum informatie

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Museumstraat 1
1071 XX

+31 (0) 20 6747 000




Children aged 18 and under: Gratis

The mission of MuseumTV is to introduce art and culture to the biggest audience possible. We do this on our joint video on demand platform for Dutch museums. Through our partners we bring the platform to the attention of the Dutch public actively.


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