CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

In the Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Exhibition: 1 June - 15 September 2019

An unprecedented collection of over sixty paintings –¬† including works from Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, and Jacob van Ruisdael¬† – provides insight into the 17th century Dutch and Flemish ways of life, whether through luxurious still life, humorous genre scenes, sumptuous portraits, or detailed landscapes, cityscapes, and architectural paintings.

Coinciding with the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, the exhibition includes the Dutch master’s Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh (1632), a moving depiction in nearly perfect condition that provides a glimpse into Rembrandt’s life when he first moved to Amsterdam. 

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669), Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh, 1632 Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669), Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh, 1632
Museum of Fine Arts (promised gift of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo), Boston

The 17th century Dutch Golden Age exhibited a new approach to art. Independence from Spanish Catholic monarchical rule and the establishment of a Dutch Protestant Republic spurred a boost in global trade, a scientific revolution, and a burgeoning middle class. This political and religious freedom paved the way for a newly democratic period in art history. Instead of the extravagant portrayals of royalty, history, and religious subjects seen elsewhere in Europe, Dutch artists often depicted ordinary people, everyday life, and secular scenes that appealed to middle-class citizens and fueled a competitive art market.

‚ÄúThese paintings provide a window into the society that created them, one that is not unlike our own,‚Ä̬†says Dr. Ronni Baer, the exhibition‚Äôs curator and former Senior Curator of European Paintings at the MFA in Boston.¬†‚ÄúThe works are grouped thematically rather than chronologically or by artist, amplifying their meaning and allowing us to explore their stories. The abundance of detail and pure inventiveness evident in these paintings bring the viewer pleasure the longer one looks at them.‚ÄĚ

Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634), Winter Landscape near a Village, ca. 1610-15 Museum of Fine Arts (promised gift of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo), Boston

Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634), Winter Landscape near a Village, ca. 1610-15
Museum of Fine Arts (promised gift of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo), Boston

In the Age of Rembrandt¬†showcases¬†the diversity, artistry, and technical skill of Rembrandt and his contemporaries across¬†all painting categories for which the Netherlands is best known, including¬†portraits, genre scenes, still lifes, landscapes, cityscapes, and architectural pictures.¬†Rachel Ruysch, one of the few noted female artists of the period, became famous during her lifetime for her dynamic and detailed floral still lifes.¬†Gerrit Dou‚Äôs meticulously fine painting technique¬†contrasts with the¬†loose brushwork that gave¬†Frans Hals‚Äôs portraits a bold sense of liveliness.¬†¬†Jacob van Ruisdael¬†is renowned for his sweeping landscapes that¬†expertly¬†capture¬†light¬†and shadow.¬†Jan Steen‚Äôs humourous¬†depictions of Dutch homes and taverns contain important clues that reveal the pictures‚Äô multiple meanings. With his restrained palette,¬†Pieter¬†Saenredam specialized in carefully designed ‚Äúportraits‚ÄĚ of Dutch church interiors.

Exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and curated by Dr. Ronni Baer.

Consult the museum website for more information.