Temporary exhibitions

African servants at The Hague court

21 September 2017 to 28 January 2018

In the exhibition African servants at The Hague court the Historical Museum of The Hague tells the life stories of Willem Frederik Cupido, Guan Anthony Sideron and other African servants who, in slavery, were offered as presents to European courts during the eighteenth century. The exhibition highlights an aspect of Dutch history that so far has remained relatively unknown. Whereas exhibitions about courtly life often overlook servants, and especially those with a non-European background, The Historical Museum of The Hague is now specifically focusing on them.

The main impetus for the exhibition is a painting in the museum's collection, made by Hendrik Pothoven in 1781. It shows Stadtholder William V and his retinue, including the servants Cupido and Sideron, who were approximately seven years old when they arrived in The Hague from Guinea and Curaçao. Young boys without family, far from their homelands and entirely at the mercy of adult strangers. Who were these boys? What were their lives at court like? And were they treated as slaves, or as free employees?

The exhibition examines the life stories of Cupido, Sideron and other servants of African descent, in light of changing views about skin colour and slave uprisings in the colonies. Top works in the exhibition include the bust of an African servant from the British Royal Collection and the installation that Curaçao-born artist Tirzo Martha (born 1965) created exclusively for this exhibition. The exhibition concludes with a surprising perspective: using Cupido's family tree, the museum went in search of his Dutch descendants to the present day. Who are they, and what do they think about the story of their distant ancestor?

Expected: The world behind a dolls house. Willem Tholen, Lita de Ranitz and friends.

17 February to 10 June 2018

The world behind a dolls house. Willem Tholen, Lita de Ranitz and friends brings very different worlds together. Meet the married couple Willem Bastiaan Tholen (1860-1931) and Lita de Ranitz (1876 – 1960). He, the much-requested painter of city views and portraits. And she, a lively lady of aristocratic birth who, inspired by the interior decorating magazines of her time, created her own dream interior in her dolls house.