Saturday, December 22, 2018


Centraal Museum in Utrecht, 
Dec 16, 2018 to Mar 24, 2019  

Alte Pinakothek

What a shock it must have been for Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerard van Honthorst, and Dirck van Baburen, three young painters from Utrecht, when they encountered the breathtaking and unorthodox paintings of Caravaggio for the first time in Rome. Described as ‘miraculous things’, his works were marked by an innovative realism, striking drama, and mysterious lighting. He would shape the style of many artists from Italy, France, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Image result

Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656), The Matchmaker, 1625. Centraal Museum, Utrecht. Home · Exhibitions; Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe

At the start of the Dutch Golden Age, Rome was the centre of the world. Young painters from across Europe made their way to the Eternal City, where – so the rumour went – the painter Caravaggio had caused a revolution. A new realism in the art of painting, unparalleled drama, grand gestures and mysteries of light: everyone wanted to see it for themselves. Among them were the Utrecht painters Dirck van Baburen, Hendrick ter Brugghen and Gerard van Honthorst.

Together in Rome, but each remaining true to their roots 

During the heyday of European Caravaggism, between 1600-1630, some 2700 artists were listed in Rome, of which 572 were foreigners. They all visited the same churches and viewed the same collections. They conversed with each other, and of course they painted! And they painted the same themes, used the same sources of inspiration, but the works they produced were nonetheless very different. Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe examines precisely these differences between the European followers of Caravaggio. By presenting the works on the basis of themes, it is immediately evident how each artist remained rooted in his own cultural background.

Masterpiece Caravaggio 

The Vatican has agreed to loan one of the masterpieces by the Italian painter Caravaggio (1571-1610) to Centraal Museum Utrecht. The entombment of Christ is a monumental altarpiece measuring more than three by two meters. It is one of the most important pieces in the collection of the Vatican museums, and is therefore rarely loaned. It is the first time for this work to be displayed in the Netherlands. The work can be admired for just four weeks starting on 16 December 2018. Aside from Caravaggio’s Entombment, his St Jerome in Meditation from the Museum of Montserrat will also be on display, another piece that has never been exhibited in the Netherlands before.

For the first time in the Netherlands 

Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe brings the Rome of 1600 to 1630 to Utrecht. Presenting seventy masterpieces, this exhibition is the first to display the Utrecht Caravaggists alongside their European counterparts: the Italian painters Caravaggio, Bartolomeo Manfredi, Cecco da Caravaggio, Giovanni Antonio Galli (Lo Spadarino), Giovanni Serodine, Orazio Borgianni and Orazio Gentileschi, the Spaniard Jusepe de Ribera, the French Nicolas Régnier, Nicolas Tournier, Simon Vouet and Valentin de Boulogne, and the Flemish Gerard Seghers and Theodoor Rombouts.

The exhibition comprises over sixty loan pieces, from museum and private collections across Europe and the United States, including the Vatican Museums, the Louvre (Paris), the Galleria degli Uffizi (Florence), the National Gallery of Art of London and the National Gallery of Art of Washington DC, but also from churches in Rome.

Utrecht Caravaggists

The paintings by the Utrecht Caravaggists are so recognisably Dutch, because they took Caravaggio’s realism one step further. Baburen and Ter Brugghen also painted the ugly sides of reality: monstrous noses, rotten teeth, dirty fingernails. Ter Brugghen even has the questionable honour of having painted the ugliest but also the most realistic baby in seventeenth century art.

Gerard van Honthorst was very successful in Rome. Honthorst’s invention of illuminating his scenes from a hidden, indirect source of light became so famous that he was nicknamed ‘Gherardo delle Notti’: Gerard of the Nights. Just like Dirck van Baburen, he received important commissions for altar pieces, and works by both artists were purchased by important collectors such as Cardinal Giustiniani, who was also a patron of Caravaggio. Their paintings were hung in the halls of his palazzo, next to those of the Italian, Flemish, French and Spanish painters.

The exhibitions follows the three Utrecht artists on their Roman adventure, demonstrates how this affected their work, and displays their most accomplished pieces.
Image result

Hendrick ter Brugghen, Der heilige Sebastian, von Irene gepflegt, 1625
© Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College,
OH. R. T. Miller Jr. Fund, 1953.256

The exhibition, developed in collaboration with the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, shows over 70 of the most beautiful and important works of the leading ‘Caravaggisti’, including paintings by Bartolomeo Manfredi, Jusepe de Ribera, and Valentin de Boulogne. Placed alongside the works of their painterly colleagues, it becomes immediately apparent why the significant pictures of these Utrecht painters are so typically Dutch and had success both in Italy as well as at home.

The rare loan of Caravaggio’s monumental Entombment of Christ (1602–03) from the Vatican is the highlight of this exhibition, which examines how the Italian baroque painter, along with his followers in Rome, inspired a generation of artists in Utrecht – most notably Dirck van Baburen, Hendrick ter Brugghen and Gerard van Honthorst. Find out more about ‘Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe’ from the Centraal Museum’s website (and read Michael Prodger’s feature for Apollo here).
Preview the exhibition below 

The Entombment of Christ, Caravaggio
The Entombment of Christ (1602–03), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Photo: © Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City
The Entombment of Christ, Dirck van Baburen
The Entombment of Christ (1617–19), Dirck van Baburen. Centraal Museum, Utrecht. Photo: Ernst Moritz
The Procuress, (1625), Gerrit van Honthorst, Centraal Museum, Utrecht
The Procuress (1625), Gerrit van Honthorst. Centraal Museum, Utrecht
Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene, Hendrick Ter Brugghen
Saint Sebastian Tended by Saint Irene (1625), Hendrick Ter Brugghen. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College
David with the Head of Goliath and Two Soldiers
David with the Head of Goliath and Two Soldiers (1620–22), Valentin de Boulogne. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid