Information from the museum, 28 February 2012
The Golden Age of the Netherlands has bequeathed us a timeless art. A Haarlem artist whose time had yet to come. And that time is now. It is time for the rediscovery of Cornelis Bega.
Regarded as a genre painter, Cornelis Bega’s gaze was drawn inexorably to the subtle nuances. Whereas peasant paintings served as a source of amusement and edification for the so-called higher society, Bega sought out the commonalities which unify us all. Particularly today his world view demands validation.
Bega’s compositions correspond with the present in the same manner as the great classics of the stage. His protagonists communicate with us in a head-on, uncompromising fashion, leaving an indelible impression. Their narratives speak of illusion and reality, exultant promises and sombre truths. Viewers possessed of a love for life and an appreciation of its tragedy will identify readily with Bega’s paintings.
In Cornelis Bega, the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum has resurrected a forgotten master from the long shadows of his more illustrious contemporaries Rembrandt and Vermeer. Emerging into the light is an artist who in painterly terms matched the best of his age, and who on a human level was light years ahead of his time.
The exhibition Elegance and boorish Manners affords for the first time a retrospective insight into Bega’s total oeuvre. 110 exhibits – his 40 most successful paintings, 34 drawings and his complete etchings- were literally sent from across the globe to Aachen.
The international loans come from over 30 renowned museums, including the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the London National Gallery and the British Museum, the Stockholm National Gallery, the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Numerous works from private collections across Europe and North America are also on show for the first time.
The Aachen Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum is collaborating with the Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin. After the presentation in Aachen, the exhibition will be shown in the German capital.