Sensitive chiaroscuro drawings, critical morality pieces, portraits, or expansive landscapes: virtually no other period of European history witnessed such an astounding variety in the art of drawing as sixteenth century Netherlands. With sublime technical virtuosity and extraordinary inventiveness, artists created images of their radically changing world, in which the Reformation, expanding colonial trade and increasing urbanization led to a profound renegotiation of societal norms. Whether in cartoons for the windows of imposing cathedrals and private residences or in sketches for precious luxury objects, paintings, and prints, drawing found a wide range of applications. At the same time, works on paper also came to be regarded as a means of autonomous artistic expression, receiving new-found attention among the wealthy elites as valuable collectors’ items.
The exhibition at the ALBERTINA Museum presents a selection of some 90 works from the museum’s own holdings that exemplify this incomparable flourishing of drawing practices. Alongside famed masterpieces by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and outstanding drawings by artists such as Jan de Beer, Maarten van Heemskerck or Hendrick Goltzius, several newly restored works will be presented to a broader public.