The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts presents exhibition The Art of Living. Dutch Burgher House Interiors in the Age of Prosperity, which brings together in exhibition space great paintings and objects of decorative art. The concept is based on the idea of creating the image of the house, which was very important for the art of the Netherlands of the XVII century. The exhibition includes works from the collection of the Pushkin Museum and other Russian museums and private collections, as well as paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest and Museum of Dordrecht.
This exhibition represents a dialogue between the paintings created by such renowned masters as Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Nicolaes Maes, Frans van Mieris I The Elder, Cornelis de Man and others, and arts and crafts objects widely used by the Dutch in everyday life. During the 17th century, the interior scenes genre went through an artistic evolution, reaching its heyday in the beginning of the second half of the century. The works presented at the exhibition mainly date from the same period and perfectly illustrate not only the interest for depicting elegant burgher interiors but also the painters’ achievements in creating convincing perspective effects and optical illusions, as well as in communicating light and air environment and materials texture. Regardless of formal compositional similarities, each painting demonstrates a vibrant artistic individuality of its creator: peculiarities of style and of means of working with the space, differences in placing semantic accents and subtly disguised meanings. In their genre scenes, artists convey numerous stories about various members of the Dutch society, sometimes filling them with humor, or lyrical mood, or a shade of morality, turning the routine into sacral acts full of the sense of significance. And interiors here become an important part of the story. The diligence and thoroughness that artists applied while working on their compositions reflected the attitude of the Dutch to their home interiors. Poetic descriptiveness and incredible thoroughness with which the artists painted the smallest details of decoration, sometimes inscribed in the idealized space, allow you to see all the variety of items created from different materials – wood, stone, porcelain, glass, metal, fabric, leather and many others. The stylistic peculiarities of Dutch interiors formed in the 17th century were characteristic of houses of wealthy burghers who, besides possessing the necessary financial possibilities, respected the traditions of the country, were interested in collecting and were open-minded about discovering everything new. In such houses, objects produced by local masters and curiosities from different places of the world were kept. Dutch furniture, textile, glass blowing, ceramics, silversmith and goldsmith factories produced objects, which were popular not only in the country but all over Europe as well. They were distinguished, above all, by being convenient in use and by their high level of execution and material quality. Among imported goods, the most popular ones were Venetian glass, Oriental carpets, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, and German stoneware. Many objects reflected various interests of the Dutch: their fascination for geography, tobacco smoking, gardening, collecting seashells or rare fossils.
The display consisting of meticulously chosen artworks allows the viewer to immerse into the atmosphere of everyday life of a 17th century burgher and feel its charm – to take a look into a slightly open window, to imagine coming inside a Dutch house of the time and carefully examine the objects, which surrounded local people in the heyday of their national culture.
The opening ceremony was attended by Netherlands Ambassador to the Russian Federation Renée Jones-Bos.
Exhibition curators: Polina Mogilina, Irina Skoptsova