Day 239: Amsterdam – The House of Six

Feb 2014  – This has been one of my most visited pages. I hope that after you’ve visited, you might share your comments with me about what you liked and took away from your visit.  All the best – Adriana

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Today Jen organized a group of us to visit a private art collection in Amsterdam at the House of Six on the Amstel river next to the Herengracht. Thanks Jen for inviting me!

To learn more about this historic art collection, visit this website: http://www.codart.nl/news/755/
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“The Six collection has its origins in the 17th century. Jan Six (1618-1700) a well-to-do magistrate and burgomaster was an avid collector and patron of the arts. His friendship with Rembrandt and Vondel has been well documented. The collection was further enriched by intermarriages. Six married Margaretha Tulp, daughter of Nicolaas Tulp in 1655, who brought many family heirlooms to the collection. Other families that are now represented in the collection thanks to marriages are the Hop, the Van Winter, the Teding van Berkhout and the Bosch Reitz family.

The collection has been handed down generations to the direct descendant of the first Jan Six, Jan Six (X) van Hillegom. It is a family collection of unprecedented wealth. The absolute highlight of the collection is Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jan Six, but the rest of the collection is of equally impressive quality.”

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No photos were allowed, so I purchased this book after the tour was completed, as I was fascinated and my imagination was piqued. There were several reasons why I appreciated this exhibit.

First, it was a private, small tour in a private home where Jan Six the Tenth (X) still lives. While we were waiting for our tour guide, a gentleman walked in and peeked in our sitting room. I was curious who he was and smiled at him, while he made small talk and then introduced himself as Jan Six! This did it for me. To be in this man’s home, where he came downstairs and connected with us for a brief moment, when he didn’t have to, made the art and the history and the story of the paintings and art collection come to life. I paid attention to as many details as possible and was imagining being the 10th descendant of this famous and wealthy family. I wanted to know more and I was so glad he provided a human touch to this exhibit.

Every room in the house was ornately decorated. One room had leather art covering the walls. One wall had a complete canvas of a man on a horse filling up the entire space. There was a a story connected to every piece and because the art was presented this way, I could stay focused and engaged.

The greenhouse, the gardens and the home itself were just as interesting to me as the art exhibit. I loved learning about the family and their relationships in society. I definitely recommend setting up your own private tour when you visit Amsterdam.

20130321-221219.jpgAt the end of the tour, Jan Six signed my book and dated it even too. I was so impressed. He insisted that we sign the guest book too, and mentioned that they had over 20 volumes dating back to the 1800s, and we were now part of the family history.

I asked him why he opened his home up and he said that no one who owned such a vast collection of art like he had should keep it to himself and not share it. By sharing it with the public, he is also able to avoid paying an inheritance tax to the Dutch government as part of an agreement. We also learned that his son, Jan Six the XI, is a private art dealer. What a lucky kid to grow up with a Rembrandt of his namesake in his house and to be able to appreciate art everyday, being surrounded by such famous pieces and having it as part of his legacy. He also studied to become an expert in his field.

I wonder what my kids will be someday… what are they surrounded by that they love? Who are their mentors? Hmm… more thoughts.  It’s fun to be part of their journey and to one day see what they become. Such a mystery, isn’t it?

Namaste