‘Masterpieces’ by the Maritime Museum is showcasing twenty-five unique objects from its centuries-old collection. Each object has earned its place in the exhibition in its own special way – because of its revolutionary role in shipping, because it is a silent witness to a key moment in maritime history, or simply because it is such a high-quality piece.
Oldest model ship in Europe
The Mataró model means much the same to the Maritime Museum as Rembrandt’s Nightwatch does to the Rijksmuseum. Enigmatic, a rich source of knowledge and unparalleled in its beauty. It is the oldest model ship in Europe, dating back more than six centuries. And it has been made extremely accurately.
The other masterpieces in the exhibition are all of nearly the same calibre. The Itinerario by Jan Huygen van Linschoten is one of the most important travel journals in the world, revealing all the secrets of the Portuguese - the WikiLeaks of the sixteenth century. And anybody who has ever seen the pen-and-ink drawings of Willem van de Velde from close up will realise that nobody has ever been the technical equal of this master of his craft.
Naturally, the exhibition has to include one of the Corpus Christi collection of sea charts by the master cartographer Joan Blaeu. This is a collection of East India Company charts that lay hidden in England for three hundred years and came to the Maritime Museum in 2006 after being purchased for millions.