CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Die flämische Landschaft, 1520-1700

Flemish landscape painting, 1520-1700 Exhibition: 20 December 2003 - 12 April 2004


Klaus Ertz, Alexander Wied and Karl Schütz


Kulturstiftung Ruhr in der Villa Hügel at Essen/Germany

Museum press release

The Kunsthistorisches Museum hosts the first ever independent exhibitions dedicated to the development of 16th and 17th century Flemish still life and landscape painting respectively. The first exhibition, “Flemish Still Life Painting” was shown to wide acclaim between March and July 2002 in Vienna at the Palais Harrach, and subsequently at Essen.

This project continues a long tradition of successful collaborations between the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Kulturstiftung Ruhr in Essen – think only of exhibitions such as Prague around 1600 in 1988/89, or Breughel – Brueghel in 1997/98. Now a third partner, the Koninklijk Museum voor schone Kunsten in Antwerp, has joined the team.

Scholarly research carried out in connection with these exhibitions focusses on the question of what is typically Flemish in Flemish art. This exhibit is dedicated to Flemish landscape painting between 1520 and 1700. It will present the most important masters of the period and their most outstanding paintings, and attempt to discuss the question by combining comprehensive discourse with a careful study of details of individual paintings.

In Flanders and Brabant, landscape painting developed into a genre of its own a little ahead of still life painting. Even at the time of its inception, arond 1520, it was considered a Netherlandish speciality, and works by such masters were highly acclaimed in many parts of Europe. In a period marked by far-reaching political and religious changes, during which the southern Netherlands experienced the Counter Reformation and the consolidation of a new state, the art scene around 1600 saw artists specialising in particular genres.

In the Flemish centres of Antwerp and Brussels, the development of landscape painting was particularly strong. Famous artists such as Patinir, Bruegel, and Rubens, as well as those now known only to scholars and experts, played important roles in the development of landscape painting during the 16th and 17th century – painters such as Herri met de Bles, Jan van Amstel, Cornelis Massys, or Lucas Gassel.

This development reached its first highpoint in the art of Peter Bruegel the elder – wisely, the organisers have decided to include only prints by him (some of his most famous paintings are on show in the permanent collection of the KHM).

The works of P.P. Rubens from the early 17th century mark the next highpoint. Between the two, during the period between 1570 and 1610, there worked a large number of less well-known (leaving aside Jan Brueghel the elder, who is, of course, also included in the show) though important masters, who must be credited with some changes and innovations; among them are Cornelis van Dalem, Lucas van Valckenborch, Jacob Grimmer, Paul Bril, Roelant Savery, Gillis van Coninxloo, Josse de Momper, David Vinckboons, Tobias Verhaecht, Kerstiaen de Keuninck, Frederik und Gillis van Valckenborch, to name but a few.

Around 1600, these artists would increasingly specialise and develop, in contrast to the so-called “world landscapes” popular in the 16th century, various different and differentiated types of landscape. In the exhibition, each of these new types or categories will have its own chapter – there are, for example, mountain views, forest landscapes, river and village scenes, seascapes, topographical landscape portraits, depictions of the seasons, paradise landscapes, and fantastic landscapes. In art history, this period is usually called “Late Mannerism”.

Rubens brings something completely new to the genre: baroque landscapes. His landscapes breathe atmosphere and he creates pictures of sublime nature that leave behind the traditions of his precursors – except Bruegel. Rubens, who will probably be represented in the exhibition by eight loans, and his followers such as Jan Wildens, Lucas van Uden, and the Brussels school of landscape painters (Lodewijck de Vadder, Jacques díArthois, Lucas Achtschellink, Daniel van Heil, Cornelis Huysmans) will conclude the exhibition.

This magnificent show will include about 130 paintings and 18 prints which makes it the largest ever dedicated to this subject. It will include loans from all over the world: from the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, the Prado in Madrid, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Koninklijk Museum and the Museum van den Bergh in Antwerp, the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the National Gallery in Washington, the Cleveland Museum of Modern Art, the Toledo Museum of Modern Art, the Städel in Frankfurt, the Picture Gallery in Dresden, the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples and the collections of the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein, to name only the largest of the lenders, as well as from numerous other museums and some private lenders.

The idea for these two exhibitions originated with the German art historian, Dr. Klaus Ertz. The concept for the exhibition is a collaborative effort by him and a committee of curators at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (K. Schütz and A. Wied), with the help of an international advisory committee (P. Huvenne, Antwerp; L. Slavicek, Prag/Brünn; U. Wieczorek, Vaduz; K. Renger, Munich; U. Neidhardt, U. Middendorf, U. Kleinman, and S. Brakensiek, all Germany).


Separate edition, especially for Vienna, of: Klaus Ertz, Alexander Wied, Karl Schütz and others, Die flämische Landschaft, 1520-1700, Essen (Kulturstiftung Ruhr) and Lingen (Luca Verlag) 2003. 400 pages. Richly illustrated.
ISBN 3-923641-50-8.

Other venues

Essen, Villa Hügel (23 September-30 November 2003)
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (8 May-1 August 2004).