Legion of Honor Opens Rarely Seen Masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age

. July 9, 2011 . 0 Comments

The Legion of Honor presents Rarely Seen Masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age, on view July 9–October 2, 2011.

Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, where it debuted earlier this year, Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection presents paintings exceptional for their quality, superb condition and impeccable provenance. Premier examples by the most talented artists of the Dutch Golden Age, many of these works are distinguished by a glowing quality of light reflecting Holland’s proximity to the sea and the swiftly changing weather patterns that sweep across the flat countryside. As exemplars of an unsurpassed period of artistic, cultural, scientific and commercial accomplishment, the paintings in the Van Otterloo collection provide a rich overview of one of the high points of Western European art.

Jan Brueghel the Elder (Brussels 1568–1625 Antwerp), Village Scene with a Canal, 1609. Oil on copper, 8 5/8 x 13 3/8 inches (22 x 34 cm). The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection. Image courtesy Peabody Essex Museum.

The paintings in the Van Otterloo collection—over 70 portraits, still lifes, landscapes, history paintings, maritime scenes, city profiles and genre scenes—depict life in the 1600s as the Dutch Republic increased in maritime strength and came to dominate international trade. Elsewhere in Europe, the nobility and the Catholic Church were the principal patrons of the arts. But interestingly, in the Dutch Republic the merchant, middle and working classes that profited from expanded trade—often even tradesmen such as the butcher, baker and blacksmith—also provided a booming market for paintings. In the Netherlands, the grand history and religious subjects favored in much of Europe fell out of fashion; Dutch artists began to create portraits not only of individuals, but also of the cities, buildings, landscape and society of this prospering nation. “I think it is this universality of artistic interest that appeals so much to modern audiences,” observes Dr. Lynn Federle Orr, the curator in charge of European art for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “In the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, we sense the achievements of a cohesive society, the benefits of honest labor, the warmth of a spare but comfortable home, the quiet beauty of a productive landscape. And occasionally we see ourselves (and our foibles) in the delightful antics depicted in Dutch genre scenes.”

Winter Landscape near a Village, c. 1610-15; Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634); Oil on panel; 21 x 37 ¼ inches (53.3 x 94.5 cm); The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection; Image courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Flemish artists also added to the evolution of Dutch style. Lured by religious freedom and a better economic climate, in the late 1500s and early 1600s many artists fled northward from Flemish cities such as Antwerp, Brussels and Bruges to escape the on-going war with Spain. The Flemish artists brought with them a particularly Flemish stylistic voice as seen in their more elegant inflection. While chronicling all aspects of life and society, together Dutch and Flemish artists created a rich and variegated artistic legacy of unprecedented breadth and quality. The Van Otterloo paintings provide all of these experiences for the modern museum visitor.

Legion of Honor Golden Gate Park 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive San Francisco, CA 94118 415.750.3600


Category: Fine Art

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