Gerard ter Borch II, Helena van der Schalcke (1646-1671), ca. 1648
Museum press release, 30 March 2005
Gerard ter Borch is one of the greatest 17th century Dutch interior masters. It is therefore for good reason that the Rijksmuseum has set up a tribute to this expert painter in one of the galleries used for The Masterpieces presentation. The tribute comprises a selection of twenty major works from the successful Gerard ter Borch exhibition hosted in the National Gallery in Washington and the Detroit Institute of Arts this spring. The exhibition includes unique pieces on loan from Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Berlin, which can be viewed from 10 June to 4 September 2005.
Gerard ter Borch (1617 – 1681) is chiefly renowned for his paintings of elegant, opulently clothed people in sparsely furnished interiors and for his wonderful portraits. Above all, he is admired for his expert, meticulous rendering of luminous materials like satin and velvet. His work not only appealed to collectors among his contemporaries, but also influenced important artists, including Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch.
A further characteristic of Ter Borch’s work is his exceptional psychological insight and sense of intimacy. The individuals he painted are often depicted in deep concentration. It is striking that in his paintings many letters are received, read, written and sealed. These are often allusions to awakening love and young women who dreamily write or receive letters. We see this in Curiosity, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art NY, in which a young woman is bending over the back of a chair to read a letter that her friend is writing. The third person in the group, dressed in a low-cut, deep-red bodice and magnificent shiny satin gown looks at us but seems to be deep in her own thoughts.
There are also a number of other extremely beautiful portraits on display, as well as his exceptional exterior piece, The courtyard from the Picture Gallery of the Staatliche Museen in Berlin and two of his wonderful stable scenes, The cowshed and The stable from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. This selection not only shows Gerard ter Borch’s paintings to their best advantage, but also the artist’s versatility.
Gerard ter Borch grew up in Zwolle where he, like his brothers, sisters and half-sisters, learned his trade from his father, Gerard ter Borch the Elder. Gerard the Younger became the most famous descendant of the Ter Borch family of artists, whose artistic legacy, a number of unique albums of drawings, is kept in the Print Room of the Rijksmuseum.
A selection of the finest Ter Borch family drawings is being displayed as a parallel to the Gerard ter Borch exhibition and can be viewed at the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam from 10 June to 4 September 2005 (At home with Ter Borch: drawings from the Rijksmuseum).