Drawings for Paintings in the Age of Rembrandt provides an intimate insight into the working practices of forty of the greatest Dutch painters, including Rembrandt, Pieter Saenredam, Adriaen and Isack van Ostade, Aelbert Cuyp, Willem van de Velde and Jacob van Ruisdael.
After having lived separate lives for four centuries, twenty-one paintings are now reunited with the drawings in which they were prepared. Years of research have been necessary to pair these drawings with an identifiable painting. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fogg Art Museum, Boston, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Albertina Museum, Vienna, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, British Museum, London, Gemäldegalerie and Kupferstichkabinett, both in Berlin, are among the institutions who have lent works to the exhibition, making it as comprehensive as possible. Following its success at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the exhibition at the Fondation Custodia offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the creative process of seventeenth-century Dutch painters.
The immediacy and true-to-life character of Dutch landscapes, still lifes and scenes of daily life seem to suggest that artists painted such scenes from life. However, like portraits and history paintings, they were invariably painted in the studio with the help of preliminary drawings. The many different types of drawings selected for the exhibition illustrate the multiple roles they played in the creative process: sketch books, in which the artists record their first impressions of a landscape or the interior of a church; figure studies, either rapidly sketched from life or carefully finished when drawn in the studio with the help of a posing model, naked or clothed; architectural drawings; drawings ‘documenting’ sea battles and ‘portraits’ of ships used by painters of seascapes; flower studies or topographical studies; large compositions made in preparation for a group portrait… all the genres that are typical of the Golden Age are included here.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, the work of an international group of specialists under the aegis of Ger Luijten (director of the Fondation Custodia), Peter Schatborn (former director of the printroom of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr (curator of Northern Baroque Paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington). Their three essays and many case studies provide the reader with a comprehensive panorama of seventeenth-century Dutch painting and draughtsmanship.
Drawings for Paintings in the Age of Rembrandt
Fondation Custodia, Paris, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Skira editore, Milan, 2016
318 pp, 31 x 24.5 cm, c. 300 illustrations in color, hardback