Recreating History: The 3D Modeling Journey of the Statue for Mauritshuis Willemstad Museum

  • June 29, 2023

At the heart of the Mauritshuis Willemstad Museum in the Netherlands stands a magnificent piece of history, the statue of Prins Maurits. In a unique project that demanded both precision and creativity, I had the privilege of recreating this iconic statue using the power of 3D modeling. Join me on a journey through the process of reconstructing and re-dressing this historical masterpiece.

Prins Maurtis Statue at the entrace of Maurithuis Willemstad Museum
Mauritshuis museum is located in Willemstad. You can see the 1.7m tall statue right at the entrance. The exhibit opened in November 2021.

Project Background

The Mauritshuis museum, situated in the picturesque town of Willemstad, holds a significant place in Dutch cultural heritage. The museum resides in a stunning 17th-century building, originally constructed as a residence for Prince Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen. Prins Maurits, also known as Maurice of Nassau, was a prominent figure in Dutch history, serving as the Stadtholder (chief executive) of the Dutch Republic from 1585 to 1625.

Mauritshuis Willemstadt Museum

Prins Maurits played a vital role in shaping the Dutch Republic during the Dutch Golden Age. As a skilled military strategist and statesman, he led the Dutch forces in several successful campaigns against the Spanish Empire. His leadership and tactical prowess were instrumental in the Dutch Republic’s fight for independence and its rise as a maritime and economic power.

As part of its renovation, the museum was looking to make the visitor’s experience highly interactive. Given the historical significance of Prins Maurits, it was only fitting that the Mauritshuis Willemstad Museum sought to honor him with a faithful representation in the form of a statue. When approached by 10XL, I was entrusted with the task of digitally recreating the statue of Prins Maurits, a central focal point of the museum’s entrance as a true pièce de résistance.

Working Against the Constraints

One of the unique aspects of this project was the limited reference material available. With only two photos as a foundation, I had to rely on my skills and knowledge of historical aesthetics to bring forth a faithful rendition. The challenge lay not only in recreating the physical attributes but also in capturing the essence of Prins Maurits’ character and expression while ensuring it was historically accurate in every detail. Maurits wasn’t a knight, but a civilian. He liked to depict himself as a combination of both. Museum requested the statue to be re-dressed, as the periodical depictions were not accurate. It was reported that in his day-to-day life, the Pris would often mix the elements of his attire, wearing, for example, a heavy armor plate with light elegant shoes.

The Role of 3D Modeling

To accomplish this feat, I turned to the versatile world of 3D modeling. Armed with my expertise in Zbrush, I embarked on the meticulous process of reconstructing and remodeling the statue. The Prins needed to be redressed to create a period-accurate depiction of the figure. His shoes, cape, collar, and armor all needed to be adjusted to fit the historical depiction. To ensure a faithful representation of history, countless hours were dedicated to meticulously refining the 3D model. The texture, proportions, and minute intricacies were meticulously studied and incorporated into the digital creation. The result was an astonishingly detailed statue that paid homage to Prins Maurits and the historical significance he represents.

The whole 3d modeling process took me about eighty hours. It required an intense focus on the finest details, capturing the essence of Prins Maurits and breathing life into a digital representation of the past.

Collaboration and Integration

In the pursuit of an authentic museum experience, collaboration played a crucial role. Bruns, a renowned design and production company, was entrusted with the task of creating the overall museum experience. 10XL, a leader in large-scale 3D printing, contributed by producing a set of furniture for the Mauritshuis. The statue of Maurits, the crown jewel of the project, was skillfully printed by Hans Boodt Mannequins. The statue was printed with a large-scale FDM printer in three parts (the head, the body, and the boots were printed separately) and assembled by the experts at 10XL.

Raw 3d printed statue of Prins Maurits
3D Printed statue in the workshop before assembly and finishing.

Only light finishing was applied to the statue after assembly as the museum wanted to keep its natural 3d printed feel.

The Finer Details

No detail was overlooked in the meticulous curation of the exhibit. Alongside the magnificent centerpiece statue, the museum requested the creation of a historically accurate helmet for a complementary display. Additionally, to provide an immersive experience of Willemstad’s past, I was tasked with bringing to life five smaller statues depicting the notable inhabitants of that era (for an adjoining exhibit). If you’re curious to learn more about the fascinating process behind these creations, I invite you to explore my 3D modeling journey from initial sketches [here].

The Grand Reveal

After two weeks of intense 3d modeling work and finishing, the reconstructed and remodeled statue was ready to be unveiled. In November 2021, the Mauritshuis Willemstad Museum proudly opened its doors to showcase the stunning 1.7 meters tall statue of Prins Maurits, thanks to the collaborative efforts of 3D modeling, finishing, and printing experts.

Paulina Oliwia Chodura (the 3d artist) and the statue she modeled
Paulina Oliwia Chodura (the 3d artist) and the statue she modeled.

Preserving History through Technology

Recreating the statue of Prins Maurits for the Mauritshuis Willemstad Museum was a labor of love and a celebration of history. Through the power of 3D modeling, we were able to breathe life into a two-dimensional concept, meticulously crafting a historically accurate representation. This project highlights the immense potential of technology to preserve and showcase cultural artifacts, bridging the gap between the past and the present for generations to come. The statue of Prins Maurits stands tall, an emblem of our commitment to honoring and preserving our shared heritage.

About the Author: Paulina Oliwia Chodura is a skilled 3D modeling specialist who offers her expertise to scenic fabricators and 3D printing bureaus. With a meticulous approach and a talent for transforming concepts into tangible creations, she excels in fixing and creating 3D files (.stl, .step, .skp) based on sketches or photographs. Whether utilizing Zbrush, Rhino, or Fusion 360, Paulina is dedicated to delivering outstanding results and bringing designs to life. For all your 3D modeling needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to her!