Oh, oh The Hague
The exhibition of "oh oh Den Haag" (oh oh the Hague) in the Hague Historical Museum is a very fascinating exhibition of Dutch classical arts. It shows city views from the 16th till the 19th century. From the earliest known paintings, which mainly show the "Binnenhof" (lit. "inner court") and surounding area untill the 19th century works on which also the poorest neighbourhoods are depicted. Which was in line with the then ruling "Hague School", a local variant of the "social realism" school of arts, which was dominant in the Netherlands between 1860 and 1890.
Visitors receive a small booklet at the entrance of the museum which gives brief descriptions at the nearly 100 paintings they will view during the tour. Walking past the paintings is like walking trhough the Hague, with special attention to the current tourstic places of this city. Like the forementioned "Binnenhof" with the Hofvijver (Courtlake), the Grote Kerk (Great Church), the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and the old city centre which dates back to the early 12th century. Also the city edges and idyllic surrounding areas with the marvelous landhouses of the local elite.
One of the masterpieces is the nearly vife metres broad view on the Hague from Jan van Goyen, made around 1651 by orders of the city council. Unlike this painting most paintings of this time are made by orders of the rich elite, which consisted mostly of the rulling merchants class. Contrary to other parts of Europe, the Netherlans lacked a central court with a king and the nobles after the Dutch revoultion of 1568 till 1648 against the Spannish Habsburg rule of the Low Counties.
One of the more lugubrious presentation is the tongue of Cornelius de Witt and one of the toes of his brother Johan de Witt. The later was the most prominent politician of the Dutch Republic between 1650 and 1672 in which year he was murdered by a carefully organised lynch mob when he visited his brother who was arrested on charges of corruption and locked in the "Gevangenpoort" (prison gate). The lynch mob corrupted their bodies and sold parts of the remains to bystanders. The tongue of Cornelis and a toe of Johan has survived the times and made it to the hostirical museum of the Hague, a true "must have seen" when visiting the museum.
The whole collection of this small exhibition is recomended to anyone which is interested in historical changes of cities during the centuries. Also for the people who are more interested in the social lives in the Netherlands between the 16th and 19th century are encouraged to visit the museum. For only €4,- you have a few hours of historical education!