Information from the curator, 15 December 2015
The theme itself relates to cross-cutting, existing in European art for centuries, figuratively embodying ideas about the world structure, eternity and its relationship with her human life, of the inexorable flow of time and its annually renewable cycle. Its origins date back to the art of antiquity and the middle ages.
In the system of ideas about the world the seasons are correlated with the signs of the Zodiac (indicating the relationship of human activity with the astronomical basis of chronology), with the four parts of the world and four directions of the winds, the four elements, times of day, human ages and temperaments.
In the art of the Netherlands from the beginning of the XV till the XVIII century remained unbroken tradition of depicting the times and months of the year, first in the calendar’s miniatures in the Book of Hours, and from the middle of the XVIth century in the series of prints and drawings. Netherlandish artists actually has the honor of creating the iconography of this theme in modern times (from the Renaissance to the XIXth century).
The exhibition gives viewers a unique opportunity to see 65 rare drawings and prints from the vast collections of the Pushkin Museum’s Printroom and discover how this theme was interpreted by the Netherlandish artists from Pieter Bruegel the Elder to Allart van Everdingen and Cornelis Dusart and to trace its development in many variations. All the prints are shown at the exhibition and published in the catalogue for the first time, as well as for the first time the complete series of the drawings “Twelve months” by A. van Everdingen is shown to the public.
Three complete series of «12 months of the year» mark the major milestones in the development of the theme: from emblematic reflection in the engravings by Crispijn de Passe after the drawings by Martin de Vos in the late XVIth century to the small realistic Dutch landscapes in the drawings by Allart van Everdingen in the middle of the XVII th century and then to grotesque scenes in Cornelis Dusart’s mezzotints by the end of the Dutch Golden age.
Among the exhibited sheets are the drawings of prominent Dutch artists of the seventeenth century Peter de Molijn, , Herman Saftleven, original etchings by Jan van de Velde and mezzotints by Cornelis Dusart, engravings, created
after the drawings of the great painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Maarten van Heemskerck, Paul Bril, a famous virtuoso of Mannerist art Hendrik Goltzius, and executed by the brilliant engravers Philip Galle, Crispijn de Passe, Aegidius Sadeler.
The majority of the sheets represent the months of the year and the seasons in the form of landscape and genre images; in these series gradually developed the fundamentals of Dutch landscape and genre painting of the XVIIth century. However, in the XVI century under the influence of antiquity and the Italian Renaissance there appeared the images in the form of ancient gods or allegorical figures, as in the prints “Autumn” (after M. van Heemskerck), “Winter” (after M. de Vos), a series of “Four seasons” after H. Goltzius.
Adhering to the established iconography, the artists have made in the interpretation of the “seasons” and “months” great variety, following individual style and creative passions. For example, P. Bril, having worked in Italy, moved scenes of seasonal activities in the entourage of an Italian Villa, and the celebrated Dutch animal painter P. Potter depicted the four seasons as the annual cycle of life of the domestic livestoke.
The placing of the exhibition in the Museum Kolomenskoye gave the opportunity to include in the exhibition objects from it’s collection such as a group of the XVIII century’s Delft tiles with the motives, related to those in the prints, Dutch decorated painted sledges and skates of the same type as in the prints.
The exhibition was opened on the 26th November 2015 in the Grand exhibition hall of the Palace of Alexei Mikhailovich in the Museum Kolomenskoye in Moscow and will run until the 28th February 2016.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue in 140 pages.
Curator and the author of the catalogue – Dr. Natalja Markova, The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.