Adam van Breen: View on the Hofvijver in The Hague with Prince Maurice of Orange and his court (1618)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A painting by the Dutch artist Adam van Breen (1585-after 1642). The painting offers a view on the Hofvijver, a small lake in the Hague, in the winter. The complex of building on the left side of the Hofvijver is the Binnenhof - build in the 13th century by the counts of Holland and since then used as the political centre of the Netherlands until today (the bicameral legislature of the Netherlands, the 'Staten-Generaal', has its residence here) and is the oldest House of Parliament in the world still in use). The small tower with round roof on the far left is the 'little tower' (in Dutch het Torentje'0 - this building today is the official office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands). Futher up on the left side but still along the Hofvijver is a high tower - this was the residence of the stadtholder (in the 17th and 18th century the de facto hereditary head of state of the Dutch Republic). The stadtholder can be seen in the foreground - Prince Maurice of Orange (he is the man in the middle of foreground, the second man at start of the group after the bodyguards) - while he is taking a walk with members of his court and his bodyguard. The painting was probably made to celebrate the 50th birthday of prince Maurice. The building on the right is a gate, the 'Hout- of Doelenpoort' which was demolished in 1630. This gate marked the border between the town The Hague and the court of the counts of Holland and was connected to the Saint Sebastiansdoelen (the building were the Saint Sebastian guild of the civic guard of the Hague practiced, now the place of the historical museum of the Hague). The row of trees on the right side on the painting is 'Lange Vijverberg' while in the background in the middle the two squares 'the buitenhof' and 'de Plaats'. At the square 'de plaats' (the square on the right) also was the place housed the the Gevangenpoort (Prisoner's Gate, a former gate and medieval prison). On the square was also the scaffold ('het groene zoodje') were public executions took place. On the far side of the hofvijver is a group of buildings - these buildings were demolished in 1915 to make room for a new road for the increasing traffic. Also visible on the this painting is the moat which used to surround the binnenhof p- this moat was removed in 1860. The church in the background is the Great- or St. James  church (Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk). Painting from 1618.

Comments