CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Pursuits and pleasures: Baroque painting from the Detroit Institute of Arts

Exhibition: 14 January - 21 March 2004


Dr. Susan J. Bandes, director of the Kresge Art Museum.

Museum press release

An exhibition of 35 renowned Dutch, Flemish, French, Italian, and British paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. This exhibition is the largest loan of European Old Master paintings from the DIA to tour the state of Michigan. The DIA’s collection is very rich in works of art from this period. This special exhibition includes paintings by some of the greatest masters of the time such as Claude Gellée (Claude Lorrain), Pieter de Hooch, Willem Kalf, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Salvator Rosa, Jacob Isaaksz. van Ruisdael, Jan Steen, Bernardo Strozzi, Michael Sweerts, and Giambattista Tiepolo. It features portraits, genre scenes, landscapes, architectural views, and still lifes that were created for the open market or as private commissions rather than paintings made for public institutions, royalty, or the church.

The Baroque period spans about 150 years, from 1600 to 1750. Art from this period reflects an increased interest in the natural world, a sense of immediacy, and a desire to appeal to the senses. These interests are manifested in the use of emotion and drama, the representation of passing time, dynamic expressions, and dramatic contrasts of light and dark.

Pursuits and pleasures presents these paintings in a new context. Dr. Bandes comments, “Rather than the usual museum presentation organized by nationality and time period, a thematic approach provides comparisons across centuries and cultures that will make one see the paintings anew.” She adds, “By showing landscapes painted in Italy beside Italianate
landscapes painted by Dutch artists, the viewer can clearly see influences and relationships. Comparing an Italian portrait of a two-year-old child to a British portrait of a young girl leads to questions about how children and childhood have been perceived in centuries past.”

This traveling exhibition is possible due to the renovation and expansion project now underway at the DIA, as the building program required the closure of galleries and restricted storage spaces. The paintings chosen for the exhibition are works that are usually on display in the European galleries. “The DIA has been enormously generous in lending some of their most well known Baroque paintings and in cooperating with our four museums to share their riches with the state,” says Dr. Bandes.

Pursuits and pleasures results from a unique collaboration between art museums, government organizations and business sponsors. The museums that worked together to plan this touring exhibition are Kresge Art Museum, Dennos Museum Center, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Muskegon Museum of Art, in cooperation with the Detroit Institute of Arts. Support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michigan Humanities Council, and Marshall Fields, The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and locally the MSU Federal Credit Union make this exhibition possible.


A 48-page exhibition catalogue that discusses and illustrates each of the paintings can be purchased in the museum store.

A second exhibition, Seventeenth and eighteenth-century prints from the Kresge Art Museum Collection, focusing on the artist as printmaker, will be on display in the museum’s Works on Paper Gallery.

Other venues

Muskegon, Michigan, Muskegon Museum of Art (10 April-4 July 2004)
Kalamazoo, Michigan, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (27 September 2003-4 January 2004)
Traverse City, Michigan, Dennos Museum Center (28 June-14 September 2003).