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A different Light on Withoos – Three generations Withoos

Exhibition: 12 December 2021 - 11 September 2022

A different Light on Withoos – Three generations Withoos
12 December 2021 to 11 September 2022 (extended from 8 May)
Museum Flehite, Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Museum Flehite in Amersfoort presents the first large retrospective exhibition of the Dutch master painter Mathias Withoos. The seventeenth-century painter is renowned internationally for the dramatic, caravaggian light in his panoramic townscapes and detailed still lifes. The exhibition A different Light on Withoos – Three generations Withoos shows ninety Withoos creations; of father Mathias, his children and of the contemporary photographer and descendant Hans Withoos.

Pieter Withoos (1657-1692), Butterflies, 1670-92
Collection Boersma-Paulussen, The Netherlands

Mathias Withoos (Amersfoort, 1627 – Hoorn, 1703) learned his art from the master builder and painter Jacob van Campen. When about twenty, he went to Rome as a master painter, for further education and inspiration. A few years later he returned in 1652 to Amersfoort and fled to Hoorn in 1672, the Disaster Year. Mathias was a very religious and erudite person, very knowledgeable about flora and fauna and the symbolism of transience. As a precision painter, he specialized in vanitas paintings, woodland still lifes (sottoboscoes), pleasure gardens and Italianizing landscapes. Focusing on light and dark helped him illustrate the connection between heaven and earth. The hidden messages in the paintings provide food for thought.

The multi-layered exhibition gives a representative overview of the impressive body of work by Mathias Withoos and an impression of the work of his painting children. The oils and the refined, elegant gouaches are presented against extensive historical background information, comprising of paintings by contemporaries or sources of inspiration and old books, scale models, maps and drawings. Hans Withoos’ photographic works interact with the paintings.

Mathias Withoos (1627-1703), View of Amersfoort (after restoration), 1671
Museum Flehite, Amersfoort

Museum Flehite commissioned the restoration of the monumental, 350 year old View on Amersfoort by Mathias Withoos, which started in April 2021. Withoos’ young apprentice Caspar van Wittel possibly contributed to this painting in 1671. In this exhibition one of the biggest town views in the Netherlands (a generous 2 by 4 meters) is again to be admired in the light and with the vivid colors Withoos once used when creating this impressive canvas. The museum expects to add View on Amersfoort to the exhibition in June 2022.

The exhibition is documented in an extensive monograph and oeuvre catalogue of Withoos’ work, compiled by guest curator and Mathias Withoos expert Albert Boersma. Also a catalogue with photographic work by Hans Withoos is being published.

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