Comprising more than one hundred objects, the Dutch and Flemish collection has been a vital component of the NCMA’s identity from its opening in 1956 under the helm of our first director, W. R. Valentiner. The collection contains mostly paintings, with most genres represented and particular strengths in seventeenth-century biblical and genre scenes as well as portraiture. Particularly striking are the high proportion of large-scale paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters, including Jan Lievens’ The Feast of Esther, Gerard Seghers’ The Denial of St. Peter, and Theodoor Rombouts’ The Backgammon Players. Several important sixteenth-century examples anchor the collection, including the prime version of Pieter Aertsen’s Meat Stall with the Holy Family and Jan Brueghel the Elder’s Harbor Scene with St. Paul’s Departure from Caesarea. In addition to a large altarpiece gallery, which mixes Flemish and Italian works, several Flemish paintings, decorative objects, and furnishings are installed together to evoke an early modern Kunstkammer.
Michele Frederick, Associate Curator of European Art (December 2019)