From the museum website, 19 October 2011
With Dutch art from the 17th century, frequently referred to as the ‘golden century’, one usually thinks of paintings of landscapes and burlesque genre scenes with farmers, of Rembrandt’s biblical scenes and of the still interiors of Vermeer. Dutch drawings seem to figure far less often in our general consciousness.
Great artists such as Rembrandt applied themselves with great dedication to creating works in pencil and ink, as did less well known, but nonetheless gifted artists, all of them producing works of the highest order. Important landscape artists such as Jan van Goyen and Jacob van Ruisdael, famous genre painters such as Adriaen and Isaac van Ostade all drew, either to make preparatory sketches for their paintings, play around with pictorial ideas or create separate small works for the market. In addition to their number, numerous amateurs also proved to be expert draughtsmen, including statesmen such as Constantijn Huygens Jr., or military engineers such as Valentin Klotz. These masters of the art are surprising for the timeless appeal of their private images of town and country.
There are only a few collections in the world in which this unusually rich period of the art of drawing is represented as systematically, clearly and in such great quality as in Berlin’s Kupferstichkabinett, whose collection boasts not only works by the great masters from this era, but also from widely varying schools. Only here can one find, for instance, the tender plant studies of Pieter Saenredam, otherwise renowned as a painter of church interiors. A selection of 100 works, entirely taken from our own collection, provides a comprehensive overview of this alluring epoch. The exhibition spans from the pioneers who paved the way for the ‘golden century’ to the great masters as its heyday drew to a close around 1680.