CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Baroque – Out of Darkness

27 May - 5 November 2023

Baroque – Out of Darkness

Exhibition: 27 May - 5 November 2023

In a theatrical exhibition with draped curtains and Baroque music, the SMK invites you on a journey back to seventeenth-century Europe. Here, you can experience artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, and Margareta Haverman as we unfold the story of a time marked by alchemy, faith and superstition, witch hunts, war, capitalism, and climate challenges.

The eternity in art

The Baroque era was a time marked by wars and crises. But despite that, prosperity flourished among the bourgeoisie and middle class, and with it came a greater demand for art. Particularly art that spoke to our emotions, intellect, and morals.

One of the Baroque era’s fundamental ideas was that life is short and death is near, but in art, one could catch a glimpse of eternity (vita brevis, ars longa). That mindset was expressed through a wealth of symbols: hourglasses, skulls, butterflies, soap bubbles, and extinguished candles – all motifs meant to remind us of life’s transience.

Baroque paintings are full of such symbols, and the artists of the time were masters at cultivating the theatrical and dramatic to please, move, and instruct the viewer.

Hidden works of art shed new light on the Baroque era

The exhibition is based on SMK’s extensive collection of European paintings, drawings and prints from the seventeenth century, and a large part of the artworks have been brought out from the museum’s storerooms and retrieved from Danish castles where they have been stored for generations. After extensive restoration work, they can now be experienced for the first time in over 100 years and help shed new light on a vibrant and turbulent period that may have more similarities to our time than one might think.