Left: Window celebrating the art of sculpture, in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, by W. F. Dixon (1847-1928). Right: The left-hand side of the middle tier of lights, showing sculpture in marble and architectural sculpture. This is the large window to the right of the central window depicting Architecture in the lavishly decorated former entrance hall of the museum. There is a good deal of architectural sculpture both on the façade of the museum and here in the interior of the museum, so it is good to see it given due recognition. The right-hand lights of the middle tier, next to these, show carving in wood, and "the embossing and casting in metal of objects of art" (Obreen 25).

The figures in the lower tier of the window are likenesses of great sculptors. These are the great fifth century Athenian, Phidias; the medieval Dutch sculptor, Claus Sluter; the medieval woodcarver Jan Terwen; and the sixteenth/seventeenth century sculptor and architect of the Dutch Golden Age, Hendrick De Keyser.

These four figures, in the highest tier of the window, are representatives of the society of the time. All three arched windows in the hall feature four such figures in their top tier. This window shows a builder, a weaver, a potter ("pottenbaker") and a goldsmith. The other two show a king, a warrior, a priest and a doctor (the Architecture window); and a fisherman, a farmer, a mechanic (a man holding a cogged wheel and some kind of instrument) and a merchant or "koopman" (the Painting window). Above these, in semi-circles, are four of the twelve representations of the months of the year, which make a sequence across all three of the tall windows. For example, above the weaver here is an autumnal scene of apple-picking in an orchard.

Figures and motifs in the tracery of this window. Finally, above the activities denoting the months of the year, the tall windows have scenes in the tracery itself. The small medallions show other Dutch artists, and the topmost medallions depict Faith, Hope and Love (according to Obreen 26). It seems that the one in the swirling blue cloak here, above the two artists at their easels, represents Love: on either side are the small motifs of an anchor (suggesting steadfastness), and a dove or doves and tongues of flame, both suggesting the Holy Spirit.

These three Gothic windows are complex ones that need to be "read,' and read together, to be appreciated properly. Moreover, they are intended to harmonize not only with the two smaller windows between the central one and the other two, but with the whole scheme of the hall. So it is a very elaborate arrangement indeed.

Photographs 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