Dutch Painters in Caputh Palace

Not far from Potsdam on the south bank of the Havel River is the small country manor of Caputh. More than almost anywhere else in the vicinity of Potsdam, this electoral-royal palace offers an outstanding experience of “Holland in Potsdam.” Around 120 paintings are displayed in Caputh Palace, more than half of which are the work of seventeenth-century Dutch painters.

This is first and foremost a reflection of the tastes of the Great Elector, Frederick William of Brandenburg. He cultivated close ties to the Netherlands following a period of study in the Republic of the United Netherlands and his marriage to a princess from the House of Orange-Nassau. For his painting collection, the elector acquired not only Flemish and Italian paintings, but above all works by Dutch artists, and awarded commissions to painters such as Gerrit van Honthorst, Jan Lievens, and Govaert Flinck.

Since art production in Brandenburg had come to a virtual standstill after the Thirty Years’ War, Frederick William appointed primarily Netherlanders as his court artists in Berlin. The most influential history painter at court in the 1660s was Nicolaes Willing, who came from The Hague. His Amsterdam colleague Jacques Vaillant produced not only portraits, but above all large-scale history paintings for the ceilings of the Berlin palace. Works by both of these artists are found in the electress’s bedchamber in Caputh. The elector’s fondness for still lifes is evident in the neighboring anteroom, where hunting still lifes and animal pictures by Willem Frederiksz van Royen and Henri de Fromantiou are displayed. A monumental church interior on the lower story represents the work of Rutger van Langeveld, who served Frederick William as a painter, architect, and mathematician. The elector’s son, the later King Frederick I, also employed Dutch artists such as the marine painter Michiel Maddersteg and the history painter Matthäus Terwesten from The Hague, whose works are likewise on view in the palace.

– Dr. Alexandra Nina Bauer, Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg

This item was taken from the audio walk “Holland in Potsdam”, which was created on the occasion of the exhibition “Clouds and Light. Impressionism in Holland” (8 July – 22 October 2023) and leads to 20 different places in Potsdam with a Dutch connection. Like its predecessor projects “Italy in Potsdam” and “France in Potsdam”, the city tour is permanently available as a free audio tour on the Barberini App and will also be published in the course of 2023 as a art guide in the series of publications of the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten.

Header Image: Bedchamber of the Electress in Caputh Palace │ Photo: Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, SPSG, Andreas Lechtape