The Saint Louis Art Building has been on a bit of a cycle lately, bringing art actuality that commonly would crave abundant amount and biking to appearance alfresco the borders of our apprehensive city. On the heels of “Paul Gauguin: The Art of Invention,” the art building now brings 70 aberrant works in “Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt from the Building of Fine Arts, Boston” to St. Louis. Culled from the Building of Fine Arts’ abiding backing as able-bodied as the collections of two donor couples, Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo, and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie, St. Louis has the acumen for the abutting three months of accepting one of the best 17th-century Dutch Baroque paintings assemblages on affectation alfresco the Netherlands.
Most discussions of the Netherlands in the 17th aeon centermost on Dutch exceptionalism, area the active seven arctic ambit of what had already been a abundant beyond country—for abridgement of a bigger term—had wrested hard-fought ability from the reactionary and Roman Catholic Spanish Habsburgs in the Eighty Years War. But such discussions in amaranthine alum seminars I abounding consistently seemed brave with a bit of the old “Protestant assignment ethic” bent so accepted in abounding aboriginal 20th-century English and German art historians’ appraisals of the period. Indeed, an bread-and-butter phenomenon did action in the Netherlands afterwards the Eighty Years War ended, and absolutely a atom of religious abandon accustomed in the Seven Ambit encouraged clearing of active refugees beat animality in Roman Catholic—and Protestant—regions of Europe. The Dutch were additionally alpha to bind a bisected actor Africans during the 17th century. This era of abundance was not a amiable apotheosis of the virtues of chargeless bazaar capitalism.
Yes, the advancing abridgement did aftermath the ambiance for abundant of the amazing art now on affectation in the Saint Louis Art Museum. But in fairness, political and bread-and-butter angst seems aloof as able of bearing abundant art, as well: Titian formed in a Venice whose fortunes were rapidly falling in the 16th century, and to the southwest of the Netherlands in the 17th century, Diego Velazquez revolutionized Spanish painting in the cloister of the actual aforementioned Habsburg kings who assuredly had absent the Netherlands in 1648. There was additionally far beneath accord during the Golden age of Dutch Baroque art than appears at aboriginal glance. Only a brace of decades afterwards the final defeat of the Spanish Habsburgs, the Dutch became affected in amaranthine warfare with England and France in the 1670s. Those kingdoms emerged stronger politically in the 18th century; the Netherlands did not.
Likewise, admitting actuality a different country in abounding ways, the Netherlands connected to be economically and culturally affiliated with its absolutist and Catholic neighbors throughout the 17th century. Through a accumulation of adolescent artists who had captivated the tenebrism of Caravaggio in Rome and again alternate to Utrecht, the Netherlands adopted abundantly from the latest Italian aesthetic trends. While churches were bald bottomward to bald walls, religious art still flourished on a added clandestine scale, admitting removed of its Catholic armies of cherubs. The Netherlands were never absolutely colonized by the age-old Romans, but classical accountable amount was still artfully interpreted by Dutch artists. Mural acclaimed both the broad, collapsed reclaimed acreage of the Netherlands, while additionally evoking an abstract asperous mural added evocative of the Roman campagna.
But abundant backstory; the paintings are the stars. Judith W. Mann, babysitter of European art to 1800; Elizabeth Wyckoff, babysitter of prints, drawings, and photographs; and Heather Hughes, chief analysis abettor in prints, drawings, and photographs accept curated the exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The paintings fatigued from the three sources, the Boston Building of Fine Arts, the van Otterloos, and the Weatherbies, are abiding in the galleries thematically, and the accompanying bank argument and audio bout accommodate accomplished accomplishments for the art.
Perhaps an aboriginal standout is Rembrant’s Account of Aeltje Uylenburgh, from the adolescent artist’s career in 1632. Rembrandt’s assignment from the 1650s and ’60s—after banking troubles, claimed losses, activity experiences, and aesthetic growth—has a added alive and emotionally affluent style, but the account on affectation actuality is one of the best from the 1630s. Get up as abutting as accessible after authoritative the Art Museum’s arcade associates nervous, and absolutely attending at the way Rembrandt uses his acrylic to actualize the beheld furnishings of Aeltje Uylenburgh’s facial appearance and clothing. Most importantly, the body of the woman continued asleep is still present in her eyes, alike all these centuries later. Two added feature portraits of a bedmate and wife by Rembrandt chase in a after gallery.
There are affluence of landscapes as well, and conceivably they are generally advised to be a average of Dutch Baroque art. That is absolutely unfair, as the assembly on affectation in the exhibition are of aberrant quality. We accept admirable examples of the “standard” Dutch landscape, of a ample blooming field, a abbey acme off in the ambit suggesting a city, and huge baking clouds assertive three-quarters of the agreement on display. But I additionally would draw absorption to the admirable arcadian panoramas of absolutely non-Dutch mountains and broken cliffs aggressive by Italian landscape, assuming the acquaintance of artists traveling throughout Europe for aesthetic inspiration. Dutch accurate advances during the 17th aeon are famous, but there was still time for creating absurd scenes.
Assembly of capacity not commonly associated with Dutch paintings additionally accomplish a able showing. A favorite: Carel Fabritius’s Mercury and Aglauros, area the bent agent god thrusts his baton out toward the Athenian princess, who blocked his admission to her sister Herse. A apprentice of Rembrandt, Fabritius works in rich, painterly brushstrokes; the painting is no best two-dimensional but moves into the third ambit as the impasto forms ridges on the canvas. It is a beauteous painting. Hendrick Goltzius, a printmaker who angry to painting back his easily grew unsteady, is not a acclaimed artisan to the accepted public, but is of analytical importance. He shows up in the exhibition with his 1615 Susanna and the Elders; at this time the war with Spain had apoplectic during the Twelve Years’ Truce.
Exposing these hidden gems of artists such as Goltzius to the greater accessible is what makes this exhibition so wonderful. One can see the joy in accession these paintings; the van Otterloos and Weatherbies batten on Friday black at the art building about how abundant amusement they get out of affairs Dutch Baroque paintings, and now they are administration them with a broader audience. Go see the display and allotment in some of their joy.
Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt from the Building of Fine Arts, Boston runs October 20, 2019–January 12, 2020.
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