Published: June 28, 2011
One of the world’s best private collections of Seventeenth Century Dutch and Flemish paintings, including masterworks by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Gerrit Dou, Jan Steen and others, will be on view at the Legion of Honor July 9⁏ctober 2. Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., 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.
The paintings in the Van Otterloo collection †more than 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.
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.
The Legion of Honor is in Lincoln Park, 100 34th Avenue and Clement Street. For information, 415-750-3600 or www.legionofhonor.org .
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