From the museum website
Nicolaes Berchem and Jacob van Ruisdael, masters of Netherlandish landscape painting, were both at the height of their powers around 1650. While Ruisdael (ca. 1628-1682) has enjoyed enduring popularity, the time has now come for us to rediscover Berchem (ca. 1622-83) and his southern visions in this first retrospective of his work. Born in Haarlem in 1622 he was already introduced by his father – the ground-breaking still-life painter Pieter Claesz – into an extraordinarily sophisticated culture of painting. Nicolaes Berchem chose as his specialist area the Italian landscape, bathed in a southern sun and traversed by animals and their herdsmen. He soon became a supreme master of these other-worldly scenarios that were to be so influential throughout the 18th century and well into the 19th century. But Berchem’s genius was not restricted to this intrinsically very varied genre, for it is equally evident in his religious, mythological and allegorical compositions, Mediterranean harbour scenes, noctural scenarios and northern winter landscapes.