The famed Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses many masterpieces of Dutch history and culture, including “The Milkmaid” by Vermeer (c1660), “The Merry Family” by Jan Steen (1668) and, of course, “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt (1642). The museum’s holdings extend to a rather glamorous costume collection, furniture (and dollhouses for adults), ceramics and more. Following a decade-long renovation, the Rijksmuseum reopened its door in April 2013, having eschewed the thematic gallery structure of its past (placing like objects with like objects) for a set-up that arranges the pieces in chronological order, over eight centuries. The museum has also introduced Rijksstudio, an initiative that makes high-resolution images of over 150,000 of its works available free to the public for creative use, without copyright. (One of the more unusual features, we learned, is that when browsing the collection, you can search paintings by similar colors.)
The Rijksmuseum has also teamed up with Etsy, the online platform for buying and selling handmade and unique vintage goods, to showcase designers from around the world who employed Rijksstudio to great result. These art-inspired pieces allow you to make the museum a part of your daily life, rather than a one-off trip. The following are three of our favorites.
Ants crawling all over your dinner plate may not be the most appetizing of images, but the detail with which Dortmund, Germany-based artist Evelyn Bracklow paints them is so mesmerizing that you forget to be repulsed. Using selected imagery from the Rijksmuseum’s collection of still lifes—painted displays of arranged food and objects that rival any Instagram or DLSR shot of restaurant dishes—Bracklow’s studio La Philie designed four limited-edition wall plates. (Be sure to check out Bracklow’s other ant-infested porcelain pieces, as well).
Dutch designer Miranda van Dijk finds beauty everywhere through her Puur Anders “photographic” fabric flowers and leaves. Van Dijk made twelve nature objects—each inspired by a different painting whose main subject is a woman (one of the most commonly depicted “objects” throughout history); collected together in a herbarium, they represent the life of a woman. This particular fabric wild rose, made from cotton, is based on the 1883 painting “At Grandmother’s” by Dutch painter David Adolph Constant Artz.
Bristol-based Tovi Sorga prints her original graphic designs onto full-grain calf skin leather, bringing bright pops of color to a medium that is typically limited to shades of brown. Her line, Tovicorrie, turns this leather into unique accessories from sunglasses cases to notebook covers. This leather clutch bag, commissioned by Etsy and Rijksmuseum, features a print inspired by the 19th-century uniform worn by a Javanese court official. Carry around a piece of history on your next night out on the town.
To celebrate the first anniversary of its renovation, Rijksstudio is hosting a competition called “Make Your Own Masterpiece,” to showcase the creative designs inspired by Rijksmuseum’s collection. Anyone can enter, any medium of art is eligible, cash prizes will be awarded and the deadline is 1 March 2014.
Images courtesy of respective designers