CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Tuesday 18 June

1. Royal Academy of Fine Arts: Drawings

with Svante H. Tirén
This in-depth visit, led by Svante H. Tirén, Head of Collections, will start with an introductory talk on the history and art collection of the Academy, mainly dating from the mid-eighteenth century to the present, while visiting some of the Academy’s main rooms. Following the introduction, participants will be able to study a selection of the Academy’s Dutch and Flemish drawings in the library.

The Royal Academy of Fine Arts was founded in 1735 and is the oldest of ten existing Royal Academies in Sweden. It started as a modest drawing school, mainly meant for the young artists involved in the interior decoration of the new Royal Palace. It underwent considerable expansion in the course of the eighteenth century and in 1780 the Academy acquired its own premises on the current site.

Plaster casts on display in the Nike gallery of the Royal Academy (photo: Bysmon CC BY-SA 4.0)

Plaster casts on display in the Nike gallery of the Royal Academy
(photo: Bysmon CC BY-SA 4.0)

The collection of plaster casts, engravings and books for the benefit of the art students, as well as reception pieces submitted for approval by applicants – mainly oil paintings, sculptures and medals – form the basis of the Academy’s collection. It expanded further with the addition of donations, especially in 1798, when the art collector Gustaf Ribbing donated about 6,000 engravings and drawings from the late fifteenth to late eighteenth centuries, among them some important Netherlandish ones. Around 1900 a number of additional Netherlandish drawings were donated by the history painter Georg von Rosen. The Academy’s most famous artwork, of course, is Rembrandt’s The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis, donated to the Academy by Anna Johanna Grill in 1798, and on display at the Nationalmuseum.

Among the Dutch and Flemish artists represented are Jan Brueghel (I), Jan van der Straet, Leonaert Bramer, and Bernard van Orley. We would be grateful for any comments – on matters like attribution and dating – relating to these fascinating artworks. Currently none of the Academy’s staff or members specializes in Netherlandish art. However, the Academy’s staff is well aware of the strong influence it once exerted on Swedish art and aesthetics.

2. Spökslottet

with Camilla Hjelm
Your guide on this in-depth visit to the Scheffler Palace, more commonly known as the Spökslottet or Haunted Mansion, will be Chief Curator Camilla Hjelm. The Spökslottet was built in the 1690s by the Polish-Swedish merchant Hans Petter Scheffler. Since the 1920s, the building is part of the University of Stockholm and holds the university’s art collection.

The visit will start with an introduction to the Dutch and Flemish collections followed by a focus session on a work previously attributed to Pieter Bruegel (I) called The Attack. During this session matters regarding attribution will be discussed with the group. For more information about the painting, please see the five-minute video made by the University of Stockholm. Your input will be greatly appreciated. At the end of the visit there will be time to look around the museum and see works by artists including Jan de Beer, Nicolaes Berchem, Gillis van Coninxloo, and Cornelis Bega.

3. Hallwyl Museum

with Samuel Norrby and Ann-Cathrin Rothlind
The Hallwyl Museum is closely associated with its visionary founder, Wilhelmina von Hallwyl (1844–1930) who systematically transformed her home into a museum. She adopted an “encyclopedic” perspective to collecting and set out to accumulate a wide-ranging selection of objects and artworks. The Hallwyl Museum could well be described as a showcase for her eclectic taste. Through the preservation of the whole house as a museum, the era and the social environment in which she lived are preserved, and the ensemble reflects the values, interests and norms of her time.

A bronze sculpture by Ellen Roosval, in the gallery of Dutch and Flemish paintings
(photo: Ingalill Snitt © – hallwylskamuseet.se)

During this in-depth visit to the Hallwyl Museum, after words of welcome by the museum’s director Heli Haapasalo and Marika Bogren, manager of the historic houses collections, we will spend time in the picture gallery with curator Samuel Norrby and paintings conservator Ann-Cathrin Rothlind. They will focus on the collection of Dutch and Flemish art from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which holds notable works by artists such as Nicolaes Maes, Jan van Goyen, Pieter Aertsen, Frans Floris (I), Willem Claesz. Heda, Ambrosius Bosschaert (I), Cornelis van Poelenburch, Rachel Ruysch, Gerard ter Borch (I), and many more..

Some of the presented works have unanswered questions about which all input is greatly appreciated. For example, input on two portraits that are now attributed to Gillis Claeissens would be very welcome. In 2017, new research shed new light on two portraits that had long been attributed to an anonymous artist; they were catalogued as “French portraits by unknown artist.” The portraits were on view in the exhibition Pieter Pourbus and the Forgotten Masters (13 October 2017 – 21 January 2018) at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges. The attribution of the monogram to Claeissens opened new avenues of research into the oeuvre of this painter. The sitters depicted in the portraits remain yet unidentified.

4. The Vasa Museum: Ship and Sculpture

with Anna Maria Forssberg
The ship Vasa foundered on its maiden voyage in 1628, was raised from the seabed in 1961 and is now exhibited in the Vasa Museum. During this in-depth visit, researcher at the Vasa Museum Dr. Anna Maria Forssberg, will you show you around the ship and its many sculptures.

The ship was commissioned by order of King Gustav Adolf of Sweden as part of the military expansion he initiated in the war with Poland-Lithuania (1621–1629). It was designed and constructed by Dutch-born master shipbuilder Henrik Hybertsson, who worked in the Stockholm shipyard in the early seventeenth century. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden, the Vasa was one of the most powerfully-armed vessels in the world. However, the ship was dangerously unstable, and capsized and sank almost immediately after leaving Stockholm’s harbor. During the 1961 recovery, thousands of artifacts were found, providing scholars with invaluable insights into details of naval warfare, shipbuilding techniques, and everyday life in early seventeenth-century Sweden.

The seventeenth-century warship Vasa seen from port (photo: Peter Isotalo CC 3.0 BY-SA)

The seventeenth-century warship Vasa seen from port
(photo: Peter Isotalo CC 3.0 BY-SA)

The Vasa was decorated with more than 700 wooden sculptures, carved by masters with German and Dutch origins and painted in bright colors. They depict a rich variety of sea creatures, grotesques, Roman emperors, mythological heroes, biblical figures, lions – and the young king Gustav Adolf himself – attesting to both royal glory and military power. The sculptures will receive special attention during the visit. The museum has been working on a new publication about the sculptures, and the staff would appreciate any input from CODART members relating to them.

5. The Swedish History Museum: Flemish Altarpieces

with Pia Bengtsson Melin and Mattias Malmberg
The Swedish History Museum has a large collection of medieval altarpieces and wooden sculptures. Two of the 38 Flemish altarpieces in Sweden are on permanent display in the museum: the altarpiece from Jonsberg Church, originally from Antwerp, and the altarpiece from Tofta, made in Brussels. During our visit, under the expert leadership of Pia Bengtsson Melin, Senior Curator at the department of Collections and Research, and Mattias Malmberg, Conservator at the department of Collections and Research, we will take a closer look at those two Flemish altarpieces, and also spend time in the storage facilities.

The Jonsberg Altarpiece is interesting in many ways: it is relatively untouched by restoration and displays major iconographical similarities to an altarpiece with scenes from the childhood and Passion of Christ that is preserved in M Leuven. The altarpiece from Tofta is dedicated to Virgin Mary and is in very good condition.

In addition, two double-sided panels from the hospital of Danviken depicting Mary, St. Francis, St. Gregory, and Franciscan saints are displayed in combination with liturgical objects to contextualize the use of these objects. As the two altarpieces and the panels are used in different ways in the presentation, the curators are interested in a discussion on curatorial and educational practices. In the storage facility, we will study and discuss panels from two other altarpieces.

6. Adriaen de Vries Museum

with Linda Hinners
The former stables at Drottningholm Palace house the Adriaen de Vries Museum. The museum contains the world’s largest collection of this artist’s work. It is not possible to visit the Adriaen de Vries Museum on an individual basis, therefore we are pleased to offer CODART 25 participants the opportunity to join a special excursion to visit this unique collection on the afternoons of Sunday 16 June and Tuesday 18 June. The visit will be guided by Linda Hinners, curator of sculpture at the Nationalmuseum.

The world largest collection of sculptures from Adriaen de Vries (1556–1626) can be seen at Drottningholms Palace grounds (photo: Raphael Stecksén The Royal Court/Sweden - ©Kungligaslotten.se

The world’s largest collection of sculptures by Adriaen de Vries (1556–1626) can be seen at Drottningholm Palace (photo: Raphael Stecksén The Royal Court/Sweden – ©Kungligaslotten.se)

Adriaen de Vries (1556-1626) was originally from The Hague, and trained in Delft and Florence. His expertise in modeling and his technical skills appealed to Europe’s courts and art patrons, who were eager to obtain bronze sculptures to adorn their Kunstkammern, galleries, and garden. The fact that many of De Vries’s sculptures ended up in Sweden can be explained by the country’s success in the Thirty Years’ War and the siege of Prague in 1648, and as a consequence of the Northern Wars and the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658. By the end of the seventeenth century the sculptures were placed in the gardens of Drottningholm. Many of these originals sculptures have been on display in the museum since 2001, after being replaced in the gardens by modern bronze casts.

The excursion on Tuesday includes transport by coach to and from the Adriaen de Vries Museum. Please note that during this afternoon there will be little time to visit Drottningholm Palace. If you wish to spend more time here, it’s better to sign up for the excursion on Sunday and visit the palace and gardens at your own leisure. Or visit before or after the congress program and have all the time in the world.

Drottningholm Palace seen from the lake (photo: Gomer Swahn - ©Kungl. Hovstaterna)

Drottningholm Palace seen from the lake
(photo: Gomer Swahn – ©Kungl. Hovstaterna)