CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The “Master Prints” of Hendrik Goltzius and Mannerist art

Exhibition: 9 March - 19 June 2005


Richard Wallace, professor of art emeritus and Elizabeth Wyckoff, associate curator of prints and drawings*

From the museum website

The Davis Museum recently acquired The Life of the Virgin series by the Dutch artist Hendrik Goltzius, six engravings executed in the 1590s by one of the most brilliant and influential artists in the history of printmaking. In these engravings, often called his “Master Works”, Goltzius created new compositions based on the style and technique of earlier artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Lucas van Leyden, Parmigianino, and Frederico Barrocci. Each image is a bravura performance, emblematic of Goltzius’s skills of invention and emulation in particular and of the complexity of Mannerist art in general.

The acquisition of The Life of the Virgin series by Goltzius offers the occasion to highlight aspects of Mannerist art from the Davis Museum’s permanent collections, and to consider the legacy of the contested definitions of Mannerism and maniera within the realm of art history. The thirty prints, paintings and sculpture in the exhibition illustrate the range and variety of 16th-century art in northern and southern Europe. They include Giorgio Vasari’s Holy Family, Giovanni Bologna’s Rape of a Sabine, and Ugo da Carpi’s Diogenes, as well as two other major recent Goltzius acquisitions, Proserpina, and Venus and Mars Surprised by Vulcan, and will be supplemented by loans from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Fogg Museum of Harvard University.


Funded by Wellesley College Friends of Art, the Constance Rhind ’81 Fund for Museum Exhibitions and the June Feinberg Stayman ’48 Art Fund.

Lecture series

In conjunction with the exhibition 2 lectures will be held at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Collins Cinema.

Wednesday 30 March 2005, 5:00 pm

Roy Perkinson, Head of Paper Conservation, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, What you see is not what you get: deceptive restorations and alterations in Old Master prints

Roy Perkinson has been a paper conservator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston since 1976. He is the co-author of How to Care for Works of Art on Paper, and has published widely on the conservation and technical aspects of works of art on paper. In his lecture, Mr. Perkinson will present examples of some of the most perplexing “invisible” alterations to old master prints, and describe how they were done, and how to detect them.

Wednesday 20 April 2005, 5:00 pm

Walter S. Melion, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History at Emory University, The meditative function of Hendrick Goltzius’s Life of the Virgin (1593-94)

A lecture by Walter S. Melion, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History at Emory University. Melion, a specialist in Northern Renaissance and Baroque art, has published extensively on Goltzius’s printmaking enterprise, with a special emphasis on The Life of the Virgin series, as well as on Karel van Mander’s theoretical writings. In his lecture, he explores Goltzius’s portrayal of the soul as a picture within the picture in the Life of the Virgin engravings.