First floor hall in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. © Rijksmuseum, reproduced here by kind permission of the museum. When the Rijksmuseum was officially opened in 1885, this richly decorated space, almost a cathedral of the arts, was the entrance to the main gallery. William Francis Dixon (1847-1928) had won the competition for the commission for the stained glass in 1882, in what seems to have been the start of his wider European career as a stained glass window designer. His work consists of three tall arched windows of three tiers, with further stained glass in the tracery, the central window separated from the other two similarly-sized windows by two smaller rectangular ones of only two tiers. Although the whole area, including mosaic floor, walls and ceiling, is intricately worked according to an elaborate allegorical scheme (moving from the material world, through the social world to the intellectual world), as the early guidebook says: "The eye is, however, especially struck by the large windows of stained glass" (22).

Left: Tall window on the left-hand side, depicting the art of painting. Right: A detail from the middle of the lower two tiers. The detail shows Willem Van Heerle and Lucas Van Leyden below, and, above them, the art of illuminating manuscripts, and the art of producing stained glass. The other artists featured here are Apelles and Rembrandt (see below left for the latter) and the other arts shown above them are those of fresco painting and painting at an easel (see Obreen 26).

Left: Rembrandt, who stands to the right of Van Leyden. Right: Dixon's signature in the right-hand corner of the same window.

All photographs except the first, and accompanying text, by Jacqueline Banerjee. The photographs are reproduced here by kind permission of the Rijksmuseum. Click on the images for larger pictures.

Related Material: Dixon's Other Windows in the Rijksmuseum


Obreen, Frederik Daniel Otto. Guide to the National Museum of Amsterdam. 2nd ed., enlarged. Schiedam: H. A. M. Roelants, 1890. Internet Archive. Web. 28 July 2013.

Last modified 28 July 2013