CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

CODART NEGEN Study Trip: background information

Background information


Empty landscapes, fields stretching out into the distance, and a gentle combination of nature and culture: Gelderland, Overijssel, Drenthe, Groningen and Friesland form the eastern and northern provinces of the Netherlands. Their sense of quietness and space makes them seem a long way from the dynamic cultural centers of Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. Castles and manor houses, states (country houses on estates) and borgen (fortified manor houses in the province of Groningen) – they all lie hidden and sometimes even a little forgotten in the midst of forests or on well-maintained country estates. There certainly are some hidden treasures in store on the program for the CODART NEGEN study trip, which will take us to the outskirts of the Netherlands from 14 to 19 March. The states and borgen in Friesland and Groningen are part of the less well-known and less accessible cultural heritage of the Netherlands. Kasteel Twickel is not usually open to visitors, but is opening the doors to its collection, archives and library especially for CODART. The CODART group will be welcomed by Christian zu Castell Rüdenhausen, the lord of the castle. Kasteel Het Nijenhuis, near Heino, is often referred to as Overijssel’s best-kept secret. Following a comprehensive facelift, the castle, the home of Dirk Hannema’s collection, has been open to the public once again since September 2004.

As well as these hidden collections, the program for this study trip also includes visits to museums in cities. The considerable density of fascinating museums spread throughout these provinces testifies to the great sense of civic pride that flourished in the 19th century. The Netherlands lacked the strong central authority and system of patronage of the surrounding states. In every province and every town, proud city fathers or well-to-do individuals set up their own museums. Works of art that had for centuries been in the possession of these towns or families were given a place in new museums. At the end of the 20th century, these 19th-century buildings underwent radical renovations. The new Groninger Museum (1994), a spectacular building by A. Mendini/Team 4, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Phillipe Starck and Michele de Lucchi, attracted large numbers of visitors for the first time. Increasingly, these visitors began to make a detour to the Drents Museum in Assen. Other museums, such as the Fries Museum and Rijksmuseum Twenthe, followed the example of the Groninger Museum by commissioning contemporary architects to make modern additions to their buildings.

Tuesday, 14 March

Closing reception of CODART NEGEN congress, opening reception for CODART NEGEN study trip at Kasteel Duivenvoorde, Voorschoten
In 1226, Kasteel Duivenvoorde, situated in an idyllic park between Voorschoten and Leidschendam, was first referred to as “Duvenvoirt.” Until 1965, when the castle was transferred to a foundation, it had never been sold, but always passed on within the same family by inheritance. Its architectural history goes back to the middle of the 13th century. Various alterations were made in the 17th and 18th centuries and the large hall in the north wing was redecorated. The designs were most probably produced by Daniel Marot (1661-1752), the court architect of the House of Orange. Every room in the castle has a character of its own, for example, the Empire-style library and a room with gold leather walls. The castle’s paintings include an exceptional collection of family portraits by artists including Theodorus Netscher, Gerard van Honthorst and Paulus Moreelse. Curator Esther Galjaard-Daems will show groups around the collection during the reception.

Wednesday, 15 March

Visit to Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede
Rijksmuseum Twenthe was designed in 1930 by the architects Karel Muller and W.K. Beudt. In the mid-1990s the museum was thoroughly renovated. Ben van Berkel designed a new exhibition room and a museum café. The garden was redesigned by Lodewijk Baljon.

The museum has its origins in the collection of one of the largest textile families in Twente, the van Heek family, who also established and funded the museum. The collection was expanded considerably over the course of the last century, partly with the collections of other textile manufacturers in Enschede. The museum offers a chronological sequence of galleries from the 13th century to the present day.

The 18th century is a particular focus of the museum. Paul Knolle, head of collections and specialist in 18th-century art, will give an introduction to this part of the collection, which includes work by well-known and lesser-known artists including Cornelis Troost, Nicolaas Verkolje, Willem van Mieris, Jacob and Abraham van Strij, Charles Hodges and Cornelis Apostool.

During the CODART study trip, the museum will also have a sizeable collection of 18th-century art on loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, including highlights by Adriaen van der Werff, Cornelis Troost, Pieter Gerardus van Os and Wouter Johannes van Troostwijk. Direct comparisons of works from the two museums, for example, an early and a late Sacrifice of Iphigeneia by Arnold Houbraken, will be most instructive. In addition to 18th-century masters, great names from the 17th century are also present, such as Jan Brueghel, Jan van Goyen, Jacob van Ruisdael, Aelbert Cuyp, Pieter Saenredam and Jan Steen. During our visit it will be possible to visit the exhibition on Tibout Regters (Dordrecht 1710-1768 Amsterdam) and the conversation piece.

Visit to Kasteel Twickel, Ambt Delden
Kasteel Twickel, near the peaceful village of Delden, is the largest private estate in the Netherlands. The estate is 4000 hectares in size and has about 150 farmhouses with characteristic black-and-white shutters. Twickel’s history goes back to 1347, when Herman van Twickelo began the construction of the castle. Since then, various families have managed the estate. The art collection and the extensive library were built up by the van Wassenaer family. In 1975, when Marie, Gravin van Heeckeren van Aldenburg, died without issue, an end came to the noble line of succession after 628 years. She left the castle to Christian zu Castell Rüdenhausen, who will receive us at the castle.

As part of the house is still occupied, the castle is not open to the public. An exception has been made for CODART. The group will be shown around by Jet Schadd, head curator of the estate and castle administrator. The castle’s collections include older pieces (including Philips Wouwerman), 19th-century works (including Andreas Schelfhout and Cornelis Springer), weapons and 17th-century linen. The 18th-century library and archive may be visited with Aafke Brunt, archivist and librarian. The library contains 5000 works, including travel books, encyclopaedias, atlases, botanical texts and manuscripts by the composer Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaar that were previously attributed to Pergolesi.

Thursday, 16 March

Visit to the Drents Museum, Assen
The Drents Museum is housed in a number of buildings that date from different periods. The oldest building is the former abbey of the Cistercian Mariënkamp monastery. The abbey has ingeniously been linked with a number of 18th-century houses and with the former provincial government building, which was designed in the 1880s by the government architect Jacobus van Lokhorst.

The Drents Museum was originally a cultural-historical museum that focused primarily on the surrounding area. As Drenthe is particularly rich in archaeological sites, archaeology is well represented in the museum’s collections. Since the 1970s the museum has managed the collection of the Stichting Schone Kunsten rond 1900 (Foundation for the Fine Arts around 1900); the holdings in art and applied arts from 1885 to 1935 have become an area of special focus. In addition to old masters such as Egbert van Drielst and Jacob de Wit and topographical artists such as Cornelis Pronk and Cornelis van Noorde, we will also see work by artists from the Hague School, such as Willem Roelofs and Hendrik Willem Mesdag, and the early 20th-century masters Marius Bauer, Hendrik Petrus Berlage, Theodoor Colenbrander, Piet Mondriaan, Chris Lebeau and Jan Toorop. The museum displays an early drawing of Vincent van Gogh, from the years he lived in Drenthe. Our guides are the curators Jan Jaap Heij and Mechteld Dubois, both specialists in the period around 1900.

Visit to Groninger Museum, Groningen
The collection of the Groninger Museum is housed in a most striking building from 1994, designed by the Italian Alessandro Mendini and three guest architects: Philippe Starck, Michele de Lucchi and Coop Himmelb(l)au. The museum building is in itself a work of art, not just a shell to display the collection. The emphasis is on modern art, but the museum also has notable older pieces, including a huge collection of topographical illustrations and portraits of children. One exceptional artist in the collection is Adam Camerarius (ca. 1620 – after 1666), a Groningen boy who studied in Amsterdam under Jacob Backer.

The visit will focus on three areas: 16th- to 18th-century masters (the Adoration of the Magi by Rubens and works by Jan Jansz. de Stomme, Adam Camerarius and Hermannus Collenius, who was the most popular painter in Groningen from 1680 to 1723); a selection of drawings in the print room (particularly the Hofstede de Groot collection); and a short tour of the museum building and the recently opened hypermodern painting reserves. Our hosts at the Groninger Museum are Caspar Martens, head of collections, and Egge Knol, curator.

Friday, 17 March

Borgen and states in Groningen and Friesland
The theme for this day will be the combination of nature and culture that is so characteristic of this region. All of the borgen and states are situated in the peaceful countryside of the most northerly provinces of the Netherlands: Groningen and Friesland.

The word borg comes from the verb bergen, which means “to shelter.” The first of these buildings were stone towers and had an exclusively defensive function. Later they were extended and made fit for use as places of residence. Over the centuries they became real little palaces, a reflection of the power of the jonkers, the wealthy noblemen who inhabited these houses. Following the French Revolution, many of them lost their influence in the village communities. This meant the decline of some borgen. Of the 200 or so stone houses and borgen that once existed, only 16 remain. Some have been turned into museums.

Rich inhabitants of borgen had their homes furnished with costly decoration. In spite of the economic decline in the countryside that resulted from floods and cattle plague, some jonkers were able to maintain their large incomes by continually expanding their estates. Around 1700, this made it possible for Unico Allard Alberda to embellish his Menkemaborg with mantelpieces designed by Allert Meijer (1654-1723), carving by Jan de Rijk (1661-ca. 1738), paintings by Hermannus Collenius, stained-glass windows by Jacob Tewes (ca. 1672-ca. 1745) and a beautiful garden. The furnishings were sold in 1902, but the building and some of the furnishings came into the possession of the Groninger Museum. In 1927 the museum opened the borg to the public. The castle gives visitors a good idea of the artistic treasures and the way of life of the Alberdas about 1700.

Today’s program features several similar buildings, which enrich our picture of the way people lived in the 17th and 18th centuries: Dekemastate in Stiens, Fogelsangh-State in Veenwouden and other places of residence for the landed aristocracy of Friesland. In Midwolde, there will be a visit to the funeral monument made by Rombout Verhulst for Anna van Ewsum. This is the absolute highlight of Northern Netherlands sculpture outside the Royal Palace on Dam Square.

The guide for this part of the excursion will be Johan de Haan, whose doctorate at the University of Nijmegen in 2005 was entitled ‘Hier ziet men uit paleizen’: interiors in Groningen in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Assen 2005. He will be joined by Lyckle de Vries, who taught art history at Groningen University from 1970 to 2000. He will fill us in on the background of the art collections in the borgen and states.

Saturday, 18 March

Visits to the Fries Museum and Museum Het Princessehof, Leeuwarden
The Fries Museum is housed in two different historical buildings on either side of the Turfmarkt, linked by a tunnel under the road. The museum also occupies several other old buildings, such as the Eijsingahuis with its 18th-century style rooms, in combination with modern extensions by Gunnar Daan.

The museum was founded in 1881 by the Fries Genootschap (Frisian Society). The collection was subsequently expanded with large donations and bequests. The emphasis is not only on art produced in Friesland, but also on collections put together by Frisian collectors. This is the basis of the print room (Dutch drawings and prints from the 17th to the 19th century) and the collection of older paintings, the predominant genre of which is the portrait. This collection includes work by Wybrand de Geest (1592-after 1660), Willem Bartel van der Kooi (1768-1836) and Wigerus Vitringa (1657-1725). The museum was left a large number of works by Lourens Alma Tadema (1836-1912) by his daughters.

The Princessehof is the only museum in the Netherlands that specializes in ceramics. The museum is housed in the 18th-century former town palace of Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel (1688-1765), Princess of Orange-Nassau and an ancestor of the present Dutch queen. The museum owns a large collection of pottery and porcelain from Asia. Other strong points are Frisian pottery and Dutch art-nouveau ceramics. The sizeable collections of tiles in the Princessehof may be seen as unique.

Visit to Kasteel Het Nijenhuis, Heino
Between the villages of Heino and Wijhe, surrounded by forests, meadows and a sculpture garden, lies Kasteel het Nijenhuis. This former noble residence dates from the Middle Ages and has been a museum of old and modern art since 1958. The founder of the museum, Dirk Hannema (1895-1984), one-time director of Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam, lived in the castle until his death. The richly varied international collection includes paintings, sculptures, ceramics, furniture and applied art from many periods and cultures. There is work by Dutch masters such as Willem Kalf, Jacob Vrel, Jan Weenix, Paulus Moreelse, Cornelis Troost and Charles Howard Hodges, but also by international artists such as Bernardo Strozzi.

One of the reasons for Hannema’s notoriety was his insistence that many of the works in his collection were painted by Johannes Vermeer. Particular attention will be paid during the visit to the recently renovated Vermeer Room, which brings together all of Hannema’s so-called Vermeers. A number of old drawings by artists including Abraham Bloemaert, Jan Both and Cornelis Troost will be on display especially for CODART visitors.The museum’s head of collections, Hildelies Balk, will give us an introduction on Hannema and his collection. She will show us around and present a number of research issues regarding the attribution of paintings and drawings.

Visit to the Stedelijk Museum Zwolle
The Stedelijk Museum Zwolle is situated in the Drostenhuis, built about 1550 and completely renovated about 1750, and a new wing from 1997. The richly ornamented façade with its figures of Poseidon and Amphitrite dates from ca. 1750, as do a number of period rooms and the kitchen. The museum contains an arts and crafts collection and a regional collection of works by 17th-century artists from Zwolle, such as Hendrick ten Oever and Pieter van Noort. The museum’s collection also includes – and this is practically unique – a work by Gerard ter Borch the Elder, The sacrifice of Abraham. The museum’s storeroom will be opened up on the occasion of the CODART visit, and it will be possible to view the drawings and prints.

Sunday, 19 March

Visit to De Waag, Deventer
The Hanseatic town of Deventer is one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands. It was a trade settlement as early as the 8th century and it rapidly developed to become one of the few large towns of the early medieval period. The old parts of Deventer can clearly be seen around the Bergkerk and the Brink, where the historical Waag, or weighing house (1528) is situated. This extraordinary building, with its variety of architectural styles, attracts attention not only because of its prominent location but mainly because it’s so crooked. The building houses the Historisch Museum Deventer. Some important pieces in this collection are The four evangelists by Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629).

Director Charles Boissevain and curator Petra van Bohemen will show us around the collection. There will also be a short tour of the town, with a visit to the newly restored portrait of the Town government of Deventer by Gerard Ter Borch in the town hall of Deventer. The museum’s collection can be seen online at

Visit to Paleis Het Loo, Apeldoorn
In the heart of the Netherlands, near Apeldoorn, is Paleis Het Loo, which is nearly three hundred years old. Since 1984 this former royal palace has been open to the public, following a thorough restoration. The 17th-century apartments of its first residents, King-Stadholder William III and Queen Mary II, were taken as the starting point for the restoration work on the interiors of the palace. They are part of a chronological series of rooms that are dedicated to various members of the House of Orange who lived at Het Loo after them, the last of whom was Queen Wilhelmina. The rooms contain the furnishings, objects and paintings with which various generations of Oranges would have surrounded themselves. A special feature is the authentic curtains and wall coverings.

The reconstructed gardens with their water features and elegant flowerbeds are suffused with the atmosphere of the 17th century. The palace museum consists of a main building (corps-de-logis) with a pavilion on either side, linked to service wings around the courtyard (basse-cour). Some of the museum collection is displayed in the east wing, the former kitchens. The west wing, the former stables, is used for temporary exhibitions and other educational purposes. We will be shown around the palace by curator Marieke Spliethoff. It will also be possible to view the print room with curator Renny van Heuven.