Thursday, February 6, 2014

Art Surpassing Nature: Dutch Landscapes in the Age of Rembrandt and Ruisdael

29 October 2012 – 20 January 2013
National Gallery of Ireland

Art Surpassing Nature brought together some 30 works from the Gallery’s outstanding collection of Dutch landscape paintings and drawings, comprising iconic pieces by

Jacob van Ruisdael (The Castle of Bentheim, 1653),

Meindert Hobbema (A Wooded Landscape, 1663),

Hendrick Avercamp (Scene on the Ice, c.1620), and

Rembrandt van Rijn (Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, 1647).

Dutch artists were the first to paint naturalistic images of their own countryside. They did not create their works outside on an easel, however. As paints needed to be prepared in the studio, artists produced their landscapes indoors with the help of sketches. They also made use of their imagination to improve on nature. Jacob van Ruisdael, for example, exaggerated the elevation of the hill in The Castle of Bentheim, to make the fortress look more impressive than it is in reality.

Dr. Adriaan Waiboer, curator of the exhibition, says: “Dutch landscapes are notable for their variety. In addition to views of Holland’s green pastures, winter scenes enjoyed considerable popularity. Such paintings allowed artists, such as Hendrick Avercamp, to depict ice skaters having fun. Some painters represented landscapes by night, as exemplified by Rembrandt’s nocturnal masterpiece in the collection, which is one of just nine known painted landscapes by the artist.”