Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum after Pieter Bruegel
St. Jerome, ca. 1555-56, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Stieglitz Gallery, ground floor
Stacy Kirk, The Margaret R. Mainwaring Curatorial Fellow, Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
John Ittmann, Curator of Prints
From the museum website
Over the course of the 16th and 17th centuries in the Netherlands, landscape began to emerge as an independent subject in painting and printmaking. Before this time, European artists employed landscape primarily as a backdrop in religious, mythological, and allegorical scenes. Although landscapes continued to furnish settings for these and other narrative subjects, leading artists of the day gradually shifted their attention from human-centered activities to the wonders of the natural worlds around them. Coinciding with Jacob van Ruisdael: Dutch master of landscape, this exhibition of some 60 prints from the Museum’s extensive collection of Dutch and Flemish prints traces the growth of landscape as a hallmark of Netherlandish printmaking.
Then as now, landscape prints simultaneously provide viewers with a means of vicarious travel and a way to savor the multifaceted manifestations of nature’s beauty. Imaginary alpine vistas by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (active 1550-1569) give way to realistic depictions of the flat Dutch countryside by Jan van de Velde (c. 1593-1641), while evocative Italian ruins by Herman van Swanevelt (c. 1600-1655) contrast with darkly dramatic night scenes by Hendrik Goudt (1583-1648). Other Netherlandish artists represented in the exhibition include Lucas van Leyden (c. 1494-1533), Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617), Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), and Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29-1682).
A special highlight of the exhibition is seven etchings by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606-1669). Famous as a painter of portraits and episodes from the bible, Rembrandt is equally celebrated as a printmaker, whose deftness with the etching needle yielded an astonishing range of atmospheric effects in his prints, from the awe-inspiring explosion of supernatural light that illuminates the inky-black sky in The angel appearing to the shepherds to the tranquil rural terrain of Landscape with a cottage and a large tree.
A natural attraction: Dutch and Flemish landscape prints from Bruegel to Rembrandt will complement the major survey exhibition Jacob van Ruisdael: Dutch master of landscape on view from October 23, 2005 to February 5, 2006.