From the museum website, 21 September 2008
This first exhibition ever mounted of Flemish paintings in the Royal Collection brings together 51 works from the 15th to 17th centuries, including masterpieces by Hans Memling, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Jan Brueghel, Van Dyck and Rubens. By the 1550s the Netherlands enjoyed a level of wealth that remained unmatched in the West for centuries. The Eighty Years War with Spain, from 1568 to 1648, all but destroyed the region’s infrastructure and creative industries. The paintings in the exhibition were produced in the Southern (Spanish-ruled) Netherlands during this period of extraordinary turbulence and its immediate aftermath, when peace was finally restored to the region.
The inheritance of Charles V, 1500-1555
In the 16th century the ‘Low Countries’ comprised the modern-day Netherlands, Belgium and a swathe of north-eastern France. It was formed from a confederation of seventeen provinces which became a distinct entity during the reign of the Emperor Charles V, (1515-1555) who also ruled the Holy Roman Empire, Spain and much of Italy.
Revolt and war, 1555-1598
During the reign of Charles’s son, Philip II of Spain (1555-98), the people of the Netherlands rebelled (an episode referred to as the ‘Dutch Revolt’). The Eighty Years War which resulted, 1568-1648, saw the irrevocable division of the northern and southern provinces of the Netherlands: the south remained under Spanish rule, whilst the north became a Republic known as the ‘United Provinces’. By 1600 the worst of the struggle was over and in 1609 a Twelve Year Truce was signed.
The rule of the Archdukes, 1598-1633
The golden age of Flemish painting corresponds with the reign of ‘The Archdukes’, Albert and Isabella (1598-1633), which brought a measure of stability, prosperity and identity to the region. Though the war continued before and after the Twelve Years Truce (1609-21) many paintings of the time use landscape to express the idea of peace and regeneration.
The later governors, 1633-1665
David Teniers dominated Flemish painting after the end of the Eighty Years War in 1648. The brother-in-law of Jan Brueghel the Elder he specialised in scenes that capture the gaiety and excesses of everyday life. Teniers portrayed interiors and exteriors with veracity and humour.
Bruegel to Rubens: masterpieces of Flemish painting
Desmond Shawe-Taylor and Jennifer Scott
Catalogue of exhibition of the same name held in 2007-08 in Edinburgh (The Queen’s Gallery, Holyroodhouse Palace), in 2008 in Brussels (Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten) and in 2008-09 in London (The Queen’s Gallery)
192 pp., 22.44 x 19.6 cm., 160 color illustrations
The later Flemish pictures in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen
Collection catalogue, the publication of which occasioned an exhibition in 2007-08 in Edinburgh (The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse), in 2008 in Brussels (Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten) and in 2008-09 in London (The Queen’s Gallery)
434 pp., 30 x 24.5 cm., 256 illustrations
London (Thames & Hudson) 2007