Universiteit Leiden

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Reinier Baarsen

Professor emeritus History of the Decorative Arts for 1800

Prof.dr. R.J. Baarsen
+31 71 527 2727

Reinier Baarsen is Professor by special appointment of History of the Decorative Arts at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

More information about Reinier Baarsen

Fields of interest

  • French and Dutch decorative arts of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, with a particular emphasis on furniture
  • The meaning of style, the moral and spiritual messages conveyed by form and decoration
  • The role of drawings in the making and marketing of the decorative arts
  • Historic interiors - what were they composed of, how did they function, what was their message



My research at the Rijksmuseum is essentially object-based. All research questions are centered around the works of art. The concept of style, as expressed in works of the decorative arts; an evaluation of the patrons, middlemen and artists involved in the genesis of works of art; matters of connoisseurship, regarding basic art-historical questions such as attribution, localisation and dating; all these take the work of art as their point of departure. The museum catalogues, books, exhibition catalogues and articles that I have written focus on the interpretation and evaluation of works of art, and the way these have functioned in the societies in which they were created. By extension, the works of art are central to my teaching and research at Leiden University.

Teaching activities

BA course Inleiding in de designgeschiedenis

Curriculum vitae

Reinier Baarsen studied art history at Leiden University, specialising in the History of the Decorative Arts under Professor Lunsingh Scheurleer. In 1993 he received his PhD at Leiden University. From 1981 to 1983 he worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in the Department of Furniture and Woodwork. After spending half a year as a consultant at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, he was appointed Curator of Silver and Gold at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 1984. In 1988 he became Head of the Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Rijksmuseum, a post he held until 2006, when the separate curatorial departments at the museum were abolished. He now serves as Senior Curator of Furniture at the Rijksmuseum. In 2007 he was Visiting Professor at Leiden University, teaching the History of the Decorative Arts.

Professor emeritus History of the Decorative Arts for 1800

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • KG Moderne beeldende kunst



  • Rijksmuseum Conservator
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