What’s up with that Rijksmuseum book for 6500 euros ?

Rijks Masters of the Golden age book

Last weekend I found out about a book that costs € 6500. Over 400 people actually bought it. Fascinating! It carries over 60 famous paintings of the prominent museum Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in such detail that it gives you a closer look than you would have in the museum itself. And it’s put together by Dutch top designer Marcel Wanders. How does a Rijksmuseum book like this come together?

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The book is so heavy that you can’t carry it without a serious gym subscription. 35 kilos and over 80 cm tall; not ideal for your daily train commute. It turns out that the Rijksmuseum book comes with a special standard so that you can put up the book standing upright. Buyers had to free up space in their houses to keep the book. A phenomenon that makes me think of the book as an art piece by itself, rather than displaying art inside it only.

Famous paintings and famous people

The book is called Rijks, Masters of the Golden Age. You can find no less than 60 selected paintings of the museum’s Gallery of Honour of the Rijksmuseum, the place where you can find the most famous paintings of the museum and, as such, of the world. Those are master pieces like the Milk Maid by Vermeer, the Nightwatch by Rembrandt, the Threatened Swan by Jan Asselijn, and the Militia man by Frans Hals.

The works were hand-picked by 30 known people from all kinds of crafts, all of whom were interviewed. Some names are: Anton Corbijn (photographer), Alain de Botton (philosopher), Marlies Dekker (lingerie designer), Angela Missoni (art director of Missoni fashion label, read more about her in our post about Missoni), David Allen (of the books), Jop Ubbens (director of art auctioneer Christie’s Amsterdam), and Wim Pijbes (director of the Rijksmuseum).

Portions and quotes from these interviews are handwritten in the book, offering another way of looking at the paintings. The text is handwritten by Marcel Wanders himself, beautifully done. You can see the whole process of the making the book here, it’s all hand work.

Marcel Wanders

He’s one of Holland’s best known designers: Marcel Wanders. He became known for his knotted chair, now a design classic. And he still thrives with his successful design label Moooi, as a founder and art director. So there’s no doubt the book is well crafted and beautifully designed.

Lucky us, there’s also a € 125 version of the book. You can find it in different stores online, just search for Rijks, masters of the golden age. 

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