A relatively small museum in The Hague, the Mauritshuis houses the Royal Cabinet of Paintings, a collection of more than 800 paintings that includes Dutch Golden Age masterpieces like Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring, Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp and Carel Fabritius’s The Goldfinch. Designed by Amsterdam-based creative agency Energize and development by digital firm This Page Amsterdam, this site presents the story behind the creation of The Goldfinch, a small painting with a large historical context. Consisting of nine different layers, the site delves into the meaning of goldfinches in art—as both Christian symbols and as popular pets in the 1600s—and the historical importance of Fabritius, a student of Rembrandt who, unlike his teacher, chose to paint with light backgrounds. The site also explores the painting’s influence on culture, including its tour throughout the Northern Hemisphere and its inspiration for composer Antonio Vivaldi’s concerto Il Gardellino (“the goldfinch”) and writer Donna Tartt’s novel named for the painting.
The site is the first in a series that will tell the stories behind some of the Mauritshuis’s paintings and draw visitors into the art gallery’s offerings. Energize and This Page Amsterdam’s site design and development welcomed more than 20,000 visitors during its launch week and garnered accolades from Awwwards and the FWA.