Dutch Drawings: Masterpieces of Five Centuries

Dutch Drawings: Masterpieces of Five Centuries

Dutch Drawings: Masterpieces of Five Centuries

Dutch Drawings: Masterpieces of Five Centuries

Excerpt

The drawings of the great Dutch masters are not unknown to the American public. The vigorous strokes with which Vincent van Gogh summarized the fields of Provence, and Rembrandt's highly individual interpretation of Biblical themes and his vivid representations of the daily life around him, have stimulated visitors to exhibitions in printrooms of museums throughout the country. More enterprising students have found their way to the marvelous public and private collections.

However, a survey of the whole development of North Netherlandish draftsmanship has never been presented, either in America or, curiously enough, in Holland itself. Larger exhibitions have always limited themselves to one chosen period. As a result, many students are hardly aware of the continuity of the process from the 17th century, or "Golden Age," to the present.

We are pleased that the present exhibition was made possible through the combined efforts of Dutch public and private collections. The exhibition was augmented by a small number of drawings from outside Holland. The lenders must be warmly thanked for their generous contributions. A glance at the reproductions in this catalogue will convince the reader that the very best was made available, and hardly a single item on the original list of requests had to be omitted.

Holland was not always the center of artistic activity in the Low Countries. Before the plunder of Antwerp in 1576 and the religious schism which prompted the north to liberate itself from Spain, artistic activity was centered primarily in the wealthy towns of Flanders. From there, interest in art spread north continually.

The North had, however, its own artistic accomplishments. In the Romanesque period, churches were built by patrons and parishes, later surpassed in grandeur by cathedrals commissioned by powerful bishops and ambitious chapters. For the most part, town planning was evident as early as the late Medieval period.

Painting remained a minor and provincial art compared with the elegance and refinement of contemporaneous work in the south. Jan van Eyck visited the court of the Bavarian dukes at The Hague before 1425, and Dirk Bouts was in Haarlem shortly afterward, but there is but small evidence of their influence.

It is not likely that drawing was a widely practiced art before 1500 in Holland. Paint-

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