CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Stad & land: 19de-eeuwse meesterwerken uit het Stedelijk

Town and country: 19th-century masterpieces from the Stedelijk Museum Exhibition: 23 May - 10 August 2003

From the museum press release

In the summer of 2003 the Nieuwe Kerk will be filled with the superb collection of 19th- and early 20th-century art from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. More than 200 masterpieces by such artists as Van Gogh, Manet, Corot, Breitner, Weissenbruch and Sluijters provide overwhelming evidence of the power of this “hidden” collection from the Stedelijk. Hidden because shortage of space meant that many of these paintings, drawings and sculptures were exiled to storerooms for years or loaned to other museums. Town & Country puts this collection back in the spotlight on the basis of two themes: life in town, where the Amsterdam painters such as Breitner (with 20 works in the exhibition) and Israëls are especially strong, and the beauty of the country as portrayed by the painters of Fontainebleau/Barbizon (Jongkind, Courbet and others) and the Hague School (Maris, Mauve, Mesdag). Town & Country is the second exhibition to be held in the context of the cooperative arrangement between the Stedelijk Museum and the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. For three years, from 2002 to 2004, parts of the Stedelijk Museum’s rich collection will be seen in the summer at the Nieuwe Kerk.

Many of the works on display were once part of the collection of the VVHK or Vereniging tot het Vormen van eene Openbare Verzameling van Hedendaagse Kunst (Society for the Creation of a Public Collection of Contemporary Art), founded in 1874. This society was set up by a number of eminent figures from the Amsterdam bourgeoisie led by the businessman C.P. van Eeghen. When the Stedelijk Museum opened in 1895, the society’s collection was given a permanent home there. As a result of the acquisition policy pursued by the society and the Stedelijk Museum itself, an impressive collection was built up in which 19th-century French art, the Hague School and the so-called Amsterdam Impressionists played leading roles.

The painters of the French schools of Fontainebleau and Barbizon concentrated on the “country”: landscapes, sea views and the romantic life of the peasant and fisherman. In the 1880s Amsterdam painters discovered “their” city: new districts, expansion schemes, actresses, servant girls, familiar places like the Dam and Rokin.

They became the subjects of the works by Breitner, Witsen, Veth and Isaac Israëls. French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists were hardly collected at all. In the early 20th century, however, works by Symbolists such as Derkinderen, Thorn-Prikker and Redon were collected. Representatives of the new modern art can also be seen at the Nieuwe Kerk: Sluijters, Gesel, Malevich and Mondrian herald a new age with a different symbolism.

Over 100 paintings will be on view, but this exhibition is also a unique opportunity to present nearly 60 highlights from the Stedelijk Museum’s rich drawings collection that have not been seen for a long time: here too there are remarkable works by Manet, Mondrian, Verster and Weissenbruch. The exhibition also includes ten sculptures by such artists as Maillol, Rodin and Renoir.


Frans van der Avert, Karin Verboeket and J.M. Rudge, Stedelijk Museum in de Nieuwe Kerk: Town & country, Amsterdam (Stichting Winkel De Nieuwe Kerk) 2003.