CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Gerard ter Borch: contemplating the interior

symposium: 7 November 2004

East Building Auditorium
11:15 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


The elegantly painted world of Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681) has always been considered the pinnacle of seventeenth-century genre painting. His views into the private lives of Dutch burghers, synonymous with the “high-life” genre, were much sought after both during his lifetime and afterward, and would influence several close contemporaries, including Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Frans van Mieris (1635-1681), and Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667). Even more so than the sophistication of his themes, these peers would emulate his subtle understanding of the inner world of his sitters, as well as his ineffable refinement in the depiction of materials and textures, whether the shimmering satins of a dress or the glimmer of a gem-encrusted sword.

In conjunction with the first monographic exhibition in the United States dedicated to this master, the National Gallery of Art has organized a public symposium in which noted scholars of Dutch art will share their ideas on Ter Borch’s rich and varied oeuvre. Several presenters wrote catalogue essays and entries for the exhibition catalogue, the first major English-language publication about Ter Borch and a significant addition to the literature on seventeenth-century Dutch painting. They include Alison McNeil Kettering, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Art History at Carleton College; Arie Wallert, curator/ museum scientist at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Marjorie E. Wieseman, curator of European painting and sculpture at the Cincinnati Art Museum; and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., curator of northern baroque painting at the National Gallery, who selected the works and wrote the lead catalogue essay. These presenters are joined by Nanette Salomon, professor of art history at CUNY College of Staten Island, who has also written extensively on Dutch genre painting.


Each symposium presenter brings a particular perspective on Ter Borch, highlighting different aspects of his often surprisingly complex artistry.

Arthur Wheelock, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gerard ter Borch: a curator’s perspective.

Marjorie E. Wieseman, Cincinnati Art Museum, What’s left unsaid: communication and narrative in paintings by Gerard ter Borch.

Arie Wallert, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Ter Borch’s materials and methods of painting: how did he do it?

Nanette Salomon, College of Staten Island, Double trouble: Gesina ter Borch and pendant painting.

Alison Kettering, Carleton College, Ter Borch’s grinder’s family and its questions.