From the museum website, 2 February 2009
Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Dyck and Rubens are but a few of the stars of this evocative exhibition on 17th-century Flemish and Dutch painting promoted by the Fondazione Roma in conjunction with the Berlin Gemäldegalerie. The exhibition explores the role that the “civic values” of family, work and philanthropy played in the 17th-century Flemish and Dutch social and artistic context.
It was a time of radical political, religious and cultural change, in which the development of a pictorial style that took up genres previously unknown to European painting, such as the group portrait and the domestic interior, is to be observed in the artistic sphere. For the first time, artists were painting cultured individuals in the performance of day-to-day activities and in private surroundings, where even commonplace scenes and objects took on artistic dignity. The portraits, which were commissioned by the new bourgeoisie as a means of flaunting their power and wealth, increasingly often reproduced the domestic settings in which that same bourgeoisie was portrayed.
Those were the years when the Protestant Reformation, the merchant bourgeoisie and capitalism were asserting themselves in full. The number of major church commissions was dwindling sharply, and artists, without a safe source of income, found themselves forced to “place” their work on the market, like any other commodity. The subjects broached by the period’s artists were no longer chosen with a view to asserting the might of the state or the church, but became the direct expression of popular taste, depicting on canvas scenes from everyday life.
The exhibition sets out to review the exceptional artistic output of that “Golden Century,” taking in works like Rembrandt’s The Money Changer and Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels, or Man in a Golden Helmet, long deemed the quintessence of his art of portraiture but more recently ascribed to an anonymous painter of his school; The Holy Family by Aert de Gelder, an admirable example of the transposition of religious subjects in Dutch art; Frans Hals’ Singing Boy with a Flute, the lively portrait of a youth; Gerard ter Borch’s Paternal Admonition, an example of Dutch genre painting of great stature; Girl with a Pearl Necklace by Jan Vermeer, the consummate masterpiece of an artist renowned for the luminosity and limpidity of his painting; The Mother and Girl Weighing Pearls, prodigious canvases by Pieter de Hooch, along with Vermeer the most representative painter of interiors; Rubens’ Landscape With a Hanged Man, a landscape painting of rare beauty with a sombre, unsettling atmosphere; Tommaso di Carignano, Prince of Savoy and Portrait of a Genoese Noblewoman by Anton van Dyck, Rubens’ favourite pupil and a painter much in demand among leading families of note throughout Europe on account of his renowned skill as a portrait painter.
The historical and scholarly significance, as well as the intrinsic beauty, of these works convinced the Fondazione Roma to open the museum’s rooms to the masterpieces of Flemish and Dutch painting, which in the 17th century offered a worthy counterpoint to the schools of painting that had emerged in Italy.
Extensive information about the exhibition in Italian (pdf).
This includes a full list of paintings, small biographies of the artists and an introductory essay by the curator of the exhibition, Dr. Bernd Wolfgang Lindemann.
Da Rembrandt a Vermeer: valori civili nella pittura Fiamminga e Olandese del ‘600
Bernd Wolfgang Lindemann
Catalogue of an exhibition held in 2008-09 in Rome (Museo del Corso)
152 pp., 28.5 x 25.5 cm., 55 color plates
Milan (Federico Motta) 2008