CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

CODART TWAALF Study Trip: background information

Background Information


Sinebrychoff Art Museum,

The Sinebrychoff Art Museum occupies a unique position in the Finnish museum world. The only museum in Finland specialized in old European art, it holds some of the most valuable and internationally important Old Masters in the country dating from the 13th century up to the 1850s. The museum annually receives funds from the State for new acquisitions. It also boasts fine collections of graphic art, objects and furniture, silverware and porcelain, as well as over 400 miniatures. The Sinebrychoff Art Museum has a permanent display and also mounts temporary exhibitions. The building with the renovated museum belonged to the Sinebrychoff family, which founded a brewery in Helsinki in 1819.

Paul Sinebrychoff the Younger was the last male member of the family. He and his wife Fanny were deeply impressed by the beautiful castles and manors with royal art collections they saw on their travels throughout Europe and they dreamt of someday creating something similar in Finland. They began collecting art in the 1880s, in particular Swedish 17th- and 18th-century portraits and miniatures. In 1901 they turned their attention to 17th-century Dutch art. The collection contains close to 30 paintings by artists such as Jan van Goyen, Salomon Ruysdael, Willem Claesz. Heda, Maerten de Boelema, Isaac de Jouderville, Nicolaes Eliaesz. Pickenoy, Cornelis van der Voort and Johannes Cornelisz. Verspronck.

Paul Sinebrychoff bought the paintings at international auctions and from art dealers and other private collectors. His personal correspondence with several art dealers and personal advisors is an invaluable resource for researchers. The beer king of Helsinki, as Paul Sinebrychoff was called, died in 1917, followed by his wife Fanny in 1921. They donated their important collection of Old Masters, valuable both in terms of number and quality, to the Finnish State. Later the State bought the Sinebrychoff family home and transferred other donated collections of foreign art to it, turning it into a special museum of Old Master paintings. The museum has also received various other Dutch and Flemish paintings as gifts: for example, Joos van Cleve’s Holy Family, Rembrandt’s Monk reading, Gerard ter Borch’s Woman drinking wine and holding a letter, Hieronymus II Francken’s Connoisseurs at a gallery, Nicolaes van Helt-Stockade’s Portrait of a family, and Jan van Noordt’s Jupiter and Mercury visiting Philemon and Baucis.

Gerard Ter Borch (1617-1681), Seated Lady Holding a Wineglass, ca. 1665 Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki

Gerard Ter Borch (1617-1681), Seated Lady Holding a Wineglass, ca. 1665
Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki


In the autumn of 2009, and on the occasion of the CODART TWAALF study trip to Helsinki and St. Petersburg, the Sinebrychoff Art Museum will be organizing Joys of life: the golden age of Dutch and Flemish painting in cooperation with the Kadrioru Kunstimuuseum, Eesti Kunstimuuseum (Kadriorg Art Museum, Art Museum of Estonia) in Tallinn, Estonia. The exhibition concentrates on genre paintings of the Dutch Golden Age. Also on display will be Dutch paintings from the Pohjanmaan Museo (Ostrobothnian Museum) in Vaasa and the Gösta Serlachiuksen taidemuseo (Gösta Serlachius Museum of Fine Arts) in MÀnttÀ, the other two major Finnish museums with Old Masters.

(Minerva Keltanen, text from the CODART TWAALF congress folder).

National Museum of Finland,

The National Museum was founded in 1893 by combining several archaeological, historical, numismatic and ethnological collections. Some of the objects were initially part of the collections of the Academy of Turku, most of which were destroyed in the Great Fire of Turku in 1827. After Finland gained independence, the museum was officially named the National Museum of Finland. Especially for the CODART group, the museum will present a small selection of Dutch and Flemish portraits from Finnish mansions outside Helsinki.

St. Petersburg

Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera),

The foundation of the Kunstkamera – located in the beautiful Russian Academy of Sciences on the banks of the Neva River in the center of St. Petersburg – was decreed by Peter I Alekseyevich Romanov (1672-1725), or Peter the Great, czar of Russia from 1682 to 1721. The Museum opened its doors to the public in 1714. Its purpose was to collect and examine natural and human curiosities and rarities. Peter I kept his collection in a European-style Kunstkamera, which was organized like a visual encyclopedia. The collection contains over one million artifacts and reflects the diversity of traditional cultures in the Old and New World.

Underlying Peter the Great’s Kunstkamera project were two Dutch natural-scientific collections, namely those of Frederick Ruysch (1638-1731) and Albert Seba (1665-1736). Peter saw them firsthand on his first foreign tour with the so-called Grand Embassy of 1697-1698. The anatomic collections were enriched with Russian teratological preparations that were collected in keeping with special orders from Peter I.
The dissection of corpses was forbidden in Russia. This changed when Peter I attended Ruysch’s anatomy lessons in Amsterdam and realized just how much physicians could learn about the human body by examining corpses. He assembled a comprehensive collection of animals, plants and minerals from all over the world, and later also thousands of human samples preserved in alcohol. He wished to dispel the belief that these were monsters created by the devil.

The Kunstkamera was decorated by Dorothea Maria Gsell (1678-1743), the first woman to be commissioned by the Academy of Sciences. Gsell was the daughter of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717).


Jozien J. Driessen-van het Reve, De Kunstkamera van Peter de Grote : de Hollandse inbreng, gereconstrueerd uit brieven van Albert Seba en Johann Daniel Schumacher uit de jaren 1711-1752, in: Amsterdamse historische reeks: grote serie, no. 34, Hilversum 2006.

R. E. Kistemaker, N. P. Kopaneva, D. J. Meijers, et al., The Paper Museum of the Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg, c. 1725-1760, Amsterdam 2005.

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Plants and Insects of Suriname Kunstkamera, St. Petersburg

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Plants and Insects of Suriname
Kunstkamera, St. Petersburg

Merian watercolors in the St. Petersburg Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

In 1716/17 Peter the Great visited the Netherlands for the second time. The goal of the visit was to find interesting object for his Kunstkamera, which would be part of the Academy of Sciences. The Swiss painter Georg Gsell accompanied him on his endeavours to buy art. It was he who brought the Tsar into contact with Maria Sybille Merian. On 2 January 1717 he ordered Gsell to buy two albums with sheets of parchment which showed “all kinds of flowers, butterflies, flies en other animals” for 3,000 guilders.
The first album, called the “Butterflybook” is of a small format and contains only drawings of insects, beetles and butterflies. The second album, which has been characterised as “artistically more important”, not only contains the sheets bought by Peter the Great, but also sheets that entered the collection in later years, 26 bequested to the Academy by the imperial court physician Georg Rauch and 18 more, that were bought in Germany by Academy member, Michail Voronin.

E. Hollman, W.D. Beer. Maria Sibylla Merian: die St. Petersburger Aquarelle. MĂŒnchen 2003.

Peterhof (Petrodvorets),

Construction of Peterhof, or Peter’s Court, was begun by Peter the Great around 1714. The scale of the main palace and its garden was influenced by Versailles, the summer residence of the French king Louis XIV. Peterhof consists of a number of different palaces and gardens. The CODART group will visit two of them: the Grand Palace and Montplaisir Palace.




Tsarskoe Selo,

If any proof is needed for the extravagance of Russia’s Imperial rulers, then it can be found in the fact that, in less than two centuries, the Romanov Tsars established not one, but two suburban estates at Tsarskoe Selo and Peterhof. What is more, at Tsarske Selo, the 18th century saw the construction of two vast and truly exceptional palaces, both surrounded by extensive landscaped gardens with diverse and fascinating decorative architecture.
Built for Empress Elizabeth by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the architect of St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace, the Catherine Palace is undoubtedly Tsarskoe Selo’s top attraction, particularly renowned for the extraordinary Amber Room. Less well known, and currently much more dilapidated, the Alexander Palace is nonetheless a neoclassical masterpiece.

State Hermitage Museum,

The State Hermitage Museum was founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great (1729-1796) purchased a collection of 225 Dutch and Flemish paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernest Gotzkowski. Nicholas I (1796-1855) was the first ruler to open the collection to the public in 1852.

The museum’s storerooms, exhibitions, departments and services are housed in ten buildings. The basic display areas occupy 365 rooms in the Main Museum Complex located in the historic center of St. Petersburg. This consists of six buildings constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries: the Winter Palace (the former imperial residence), and the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage, the New (Large) Hermitage, the Hermitage Theater and the Reserve House.

The collection of Dutch art encompasses more than 1,000 objects and the exhibition of works by Dutch artists occupy six rooms in the New Hermitage, the largest of them, the Tent Hall, with a display of 17th-century works by leading masters: landscapes by Jan van Goyen and Jacob van Ruisdael, genre scenes by Jan Steen, Gerard ter Borch, Pieter de Hooch, Adriaen, and Isaac van Ostade, animal paintings by Paulus Potter, still lifes by Willem Claesz Heda and Willem Kalf. Frans Hals is represented by a Portrait of a young man with a glove in his hand (ca. 1659) and a Portrait of a man (before 1660). Over 20 works by Rembrandt hang in a special room devoted to him and his pupils. The first painting by Rembrandt to be brought to Russia by Peter I was David and Jonathan (1642).

The collection of 15th- and 16th-century Netherlandish art counts close to 100 paintings, among them a diptych by Robert Campin from the 1430s, Rogier van der Weyden’s St Luke drawing the Virgin, The healing of the blind man of Jericho by Lucas van Leyden, (1531), and two group portraits by Dirk Jacobsz.

The collection of 17th- and 18th-century Flemish painting includes over 500 canvases by more than 140 artists, with works by almost all the leading masters of the Flemish school. The exhibition occupies five rooms on the first floor of the New Hermitage, the central place allotted to works by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Snyders. There are 22 paintings by Rubens, as well as 19 oil sketches, including Perseus and Andromeda (1620-1621), Portrait of a lady-in-waiting to the Infanta Isabella (1623-1625), and Bacchus (1638-1640).

Prints and Drawings

In 1769 Empress Catherine the Great acquired the collection of Count Heinrich von BrĂŒhl. Not only did it contain over 600 paintings, it also boasted vast numbers of prints. Clearly, prints and drawings were collected early on, culminating in the formation of a collection of almost half a million prints and the largest holdings of drawings and watercolors in Europe. Highlights include more than 600 prints by Rembrandt, as well as prints by artists such as Lucas van Leyden, Hendrick Goltzius, Hercules Seghers, Anthony van Dyck and Rubens.

Drawings by Rembrandt and Rubens are considered absolute highlights in the collection. Sheets by the latter were bought as early as 1768 from the collection of Count Cobenzl in Brussels.


Natalia Grizay, Natalya Babina, Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Flemish Painting, in: State Hermitage Museum Catalogue, St. Petersburg 2008.

Nikolai N. Nikulin, Netherlandish Painting: Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, in: The Hermitage Catalogue of Western European Painting, vol. 5, Florence 1989.

Irina Sokolova, Dutch and Flemish Paintings from the Hermitage, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art / Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, 1988.

Natalia Gritzai, Seiro Mayekawa, 17th Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings and Drawings from the Hermitage Leningrad, Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art, 1983.

Natalya P. Babina, Natalia Grizay, P. Huvenne, Hans Nieuwdorp, Antwerpse Meesters uit de Hermitage, Leningrad, Antwerp, Rubenshuis, 1986.

Klara Semjonova, Jeroen Giltaij, Irene Linnik, Meesterwerken uit de Hermitage, Leningrad: Hollandse en Vlaamse schilderkunst van de 17e eeuw – Masterpieces from the Hermitage, Leningrad: Dutch and Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, 1985.

Alexei Larionov, Dutch and Flemish Old Master Drawings in the Hermitage: A Brief History of the Collection, St. Petersburg: Hermitage, 1999.

Dutch and Flemish Art of the 17th Century from the State Hermitage Museum, Tokyo, Tobu Museum of Art, 1992.

Emmanuel Starcky, Natalia Grizay, Irina Sokolova, RenĂ©e Loche, Klara Semjonova, Nathalie Brunet, L’ Age d’or flamand et hollandais: Collections de Catherine II, MusĂ©e de l’Ermitage, Saint-PĂ©tersbourg, Dijon, MusĂ©e des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, 1993.

Irina Sokolova, A Collector’s Taste: Dutch and Flemish Paintings of the 16th and 17th Centuries from the Picture Gallery of Pyotr Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, St. Petersburg 2006.

Norman, Geraldine, The Hermitage: The Biography of a Great Museum, New York 1997.
See under Special features: Dutch and Flemish art in Russia (2005)
This publication proceeds from the CODART TWEE congress in Amsterdam, 14-16 March 1999, organized by CODART, in cooperation with the Foundation for Cultural Inventory. Essays by Marina Senenko, Xenia Egorova, Alexei Larionov, Irina Sokolova, Vadim Sadkov and Rudi Ekkart, with illustrations.

Pavlovsk Palace,

Pavlovsk was built for the Russian czar Paul I, the only son of Catherine the Great. The palace is located southeast of St. Petersburg, a few miles beyond the town of Tsarskoye Selo. The original estate was around 1500 acres and was a gift from Catherine to Paul (Pavel in Russian) on the birth of his first son, the future Czar Alexander I, in 1777. Work on the palace began in 1781 under the direction of the famous Scottish architect, Charles Cameron.
After Paul was murdered in 1801, Pavlovsk became the primary residence of his widow, Maria Fedorovna. After her death in 1828 the palace passed to their son, Grand Duke Mikhail Petrovich. Mikhail was childless and bequeathed Pavlovsk to his nephew Konstantin Nikolayevich, who left it in turn to his son, the famous poet Konstantin Konstantinovich. During this period the main building of the palace was recognized by the Romanov family as a unique artistic and historic legacy and was preserved as a virtual museum. A minimum of work was done on its decoration, whereby it continued to exude an early 19th-century look and feel.
Unfortunately, the palace was badly damaged and looted during World War II. It was restored after the war.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky's grave at Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s grave at Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

Alexander Nevsky Monastery,

The Alexander Nevsky Monastery complex is home to some of the oldest buildings in St. Petersburg, as well as cemeteries containing the graves of leading Russian cultural figures, including Tchaikovsky, Dostoyevsky, and Glinka.
The monastery was founded in July 1710. In 1712, the first church was built, in wood, on the site of the future monastery and consecrated in the presence of Peter the Great on 25 March 1713. The monastery was occupied shortly thereafter. In 1724, a new church, designed by Italian architect Domenico Trezzini, was consecrated. It was named after Alexander Nevsky – considered a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church – whose remains were brought to the church from the ancient city of Vladimir in a journey lasting several months. The day when the remains were moved into the new church was celebrated each year as a holiday. By the beginning of the 20th century the land of the monastery complex was home to an impressive 16 churches. Today, only five survive: the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Church of the Annunciation, the Church of St. Lazarus, the Church of St. Nicholas, and the Church of the Holy Mother of God, the Joy of All Those who Mourn, which is over the monastery gates. Like many centers of Orthodoxy, the monastery suffered at the hands of the Revolution. Fortunately, though, much has survived, and restoration work has been ongoing in recent years. After a number of petitions from local believers, Holy Trinity Cathedral was returned to the Orthodox Church in 1955.

Museum of the History of Religion,

Back in communist times, the museum was called Museum of Atheism and housed in the Kazan Cathedral. Name and location have changed since then, but the exhibits remain largely the same. The permanent exhibition traces the formation and development of religion through art. While you are not likely to encounter a great masterpiece of art here, a theme-orientated approach to formation of a collection is untypical and perhaps more interesting than the classic one. The exhibits include historical and cultural artifacts of different countries, ages and nations, starting in the 6th century BC. Archaic Rituals, Mythology of the Ancient World, Judaism, Early Christianity, Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam and Buddhism – these are the titles of the separate sections of the collection.