Housed in an Art Deco mansion of 1930 on the northern edge of town, the Rijksmuseum Twente contains two key sections – fifteenth- to nineteenth-century art and modern and contemporary art, primarily Dutch with the emphasis on Expressionism. Among a fine sample of early religious art, three particular highlights are a set of brilliant blue and gold fragments from a French hand-illuminated missal; a primitive twelfth-century woodcarving of Christ on Palm Sunday, and a delightful cartoon strip of contemporary life entitled De Zeven Werken van Barmhartigheid (“The Seven Acts of Charity”).
Of later canvases, Hans Holbein’s Portrait of Richard Mabott is typical of his work, the stark black of the subject’s gown offset by the white cross on his chest and the face so finely observed it’s possible to make out the line of his stubble. Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s Winter Landscape is also fastidiously drawn, down to the last twig, and contrasts with the more loosely contoured figures and threatening clouds of his brother Jan’s Landscape. Moving on, Jan Steen’s The Alchemist is all scurrilous satire, from the skull on the chimneypiece to the lizard suspended from the ceiling and the ogre’s whispered advice. Steen also mocks sex, most memorably here in his Lute Player, which features a woman with bulging breasts and flushed countenance in the foreground, while on the wall behind is the vague outline of tussling lovers.
High points of the modern and contemporary section include Monet’s volatile Falaises près de Pourville; a characteristically unsettling canvas by Carel Willink, The Actress Ank van der Moer; and examples of the work of less well-known Dutch modernists like Theo Kuypers, Jan Roeland and Emo Verkerk.