In 1760, Pieter de Swart designed a house on the Lange Voorhout for Anthony Patras. Patras was mayor of the Frisian town Sloten and the States General representative. The building was built between 1760 and 1764. In 1796 it was bought by Archibald Hope. The Hope family was at the time the financer of the European nobility and was known to lend money to both parties in a conflict for their warfaring. It is then also perhaps no accident that Napoleon on his travels through our country stayed here for 14 hours in 1811.
Queen Emma, the Queen Mother bought the building in 1896 with the legacy from her brother-in-law Prince Hendrik, nicknamed the Seafarer. She had it extensively rebuilt before, in 1901, coming here after the marriage of Queen Wilhelmina. The renovation work included the main staircase to the first floor being adorned with shiny copper banisters. Thus lending Lange Voorhout Palace a veritably regal appeal!
This beautiful staircase looks like it leads up to the second floor, but that is just an (optical) illusion – the stairs only go up to the first floor. Only Queen Emma, her guests and the most important members of the royal household were allowed to use this elegant staircase. Since the queen did not have any chambers on the second floor, there was no need for a beautiful staircase up to it.
All the other residents of the palace used the invisible staircase. The service staff, whose quarters were situated on the second and third floors, had to take the stairs behind all the doors on the left-hand side of the building. This is still used by visitors and the current staff.
It was not just the staircase that was renovated – the skylight in the hall was fitted with beautiful stained-glass windows, various rooms had paintings installed above the doors and the interior was composed using elements from other palaces, such as Noordeinde and Het Loo. Thus making the image of the palace more royal. One particularly eye-catching feature was to be found in Her Majesty’s bathroom: Emma’s red marble bath!
Queen Emma used the palace as a winter palace; in the summer she stayed at Soestdijk. The building was mostly a working palace for princesses Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix. Queen Juliana was the first queen to start her ride in the golden carriage from the palace at the opening of the States General on Prince’s Day. Famous is the traditional hand waving of the royal family on the small golden balcony at the front of the building. This balcony may, however, no longer be used.
Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus worked here until the Palace at Noordeinde was made suitable as a working palace. In 1990, the royal family sold the building to the municipality of The Hague on the condition that it would only be used for cultural activities.
The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (now known as Kunstmuseum Den Haag) held exhibitions with great success of the works of Auguste Rodin, Frida Kahlo and Venetian glass. Since November 2002, the palace has been housing the permanent exhibition of M.C. Escher’s work and life.