DUTCH? FLEMISH? MORE DUTCH PAINTINGS

In my feeble attempt to clarify the impossible, a side note is in order here as to why some of these “Golden Age” painters are noted as being “Flemish” as opposed to “Dutch.” There was an area called Flanders just prior to 1800 (whose southern borders were nebulous) that encompassed parts of Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. Most of it became part of Belgium in 1830, but yet Flanders is still referred to as an autonomous area called the Flemish region with their own government including a congress. Ypres, Ghent, and Bruges are included in the area known as Flanders. To this day, some think of Brussels, Belgium as being in Flanders as opposed to Belgium. Also, they refer to part of the area as the Benelux Region (with it’s own flag) that encompasses Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. This area was formed in 1944 to promote free trade between these three countries. I don’t think I would want to be involved in a property rights dispute here. Confusing as all that seems, it must be clear to the millions that live there, although they are in a bit of political upheaval at the moment. If anyone can help describe it more clearly, please jump in and comment. Anyway, here are the last of the Dutch Golden Age paintings that I photographed at the Getty and the de Young:

JanSteenBathshebaAftereTheBath1

Bathsheba after the Bath, About 1665-70, Jan Steen, Dutch, 1626-1679, oil on panel

“Depicted here is the moment from the biblical story when Bathsheba receives a letter of summons from King David. In Steen’s interpretation, Bathsheba is a temptress rather than the innocent victim of the king’s passion. Unconcerned by her partial nudity, she stares brazenly at the viewer while her maidservant cuts her toenails. The shoe in the right foreground is a symbol of wantonness; the fountain probably alludes to fertility.”

JanSteenTheDrawingLesson2

The Drawing Lesson, About 1665, Jan Steen, oil on panel

“In a studio filled with artistic props, a painter corrects a drawing by one of his two pupils, a young boy and a teenage girl. The cool, clear light from the main window of this idealized interior reveals an array of materials and precisely rendered textures, from plaster to satin, fur, glass, and bone. Steen’s unusually refined technique suggests that this work was meant to celebrate the art of painting.”

JacobVanRuisdaelBridgeWithASluice

Bridge with a Sluice, About 1648-49, Jacob van Ruisdael, Dutch, 1628/29-1682, oil on panel

“Ruisdael’s ability to create complex, monumental images from humble motifs helps explain why he is considered one of the finest landscape painters of the 1600s. Here a rustic sluice, used to regulate water levels and irrigate farmland, is illuminated by a shaft of sunlight. Although the picture contains only one figure, evidence of human activity dominates the scene. Set against a background of productive pastureland, the sluice testifies to man’s continual struggle to control nature.”

JacobVanRuisdaelTwoWaterMillsAndAnOpenSluice

Two Water Mills and an Open Sluice, 1653, Jacob van Ruisdael, oil on canvas

JanVanHuysumVaseOfFlowers

Vase of Flowers, 1722, Jan van Huysum, Dutch, 1682-1749, oil on panel, 31 1/4 x 24

JanVanHuysumVaseOfFlowersCloseup

Vase of Flowers closeup

“In this work, flowers from all times of year–roses, anemones, hyacinths, and tulips, among others–have been painted directly from life. Van Huysum’s painstaking application of multiple layers of think oil glazes captures the brilliant colors and delicate textures of the petals. His vivid greens, however, were fugitive; here the leaves have faded to blue. Because he insisted on only painting each kind of flower while it was in season, it sometimes took the artist years to complete a picture.” http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=817

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Fruit Piece, 1722, Jan van Huysum, oil on panel, 31 1/4 x 24

JanVanHuysumFruitPieceCloseup

Fruit Piece closeup

“This lavish still life of fruit and flowers combines the lustrous realism of Dutch paitnings of the 1600s with the bright colors and sinuous rhythms characteristic of the Rococo style of the 1700s. The effect is lush and extravagantly varied–van Huysum deftly captured the translucence of overripe fruit, the weight of heavy blooms, the crisp surfaes of leaves, and the wiry tension of vines. The artist jealously guardedd his technical secrets, allowing no one to visit his studio.” http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=818

Oh, if only we knew something about van Huysum’s working methods! We could learn so much from him. These paintings were affected by the skylights so that I had a very difficult time photographing them sans reflections.

Note: All text in quotes is taken from the Getty or de Young museum placards posted beside paintings.

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REMBRANDT AT THE MUSEUM–NOT AN ALL FOOLS’ DAY JOKE

Here are more museum postings, which I will continue to do in order to give you the flavor of all we saw. Please keep in mind that there were many unavoidable light reflections, not only from the skylights and track lighting, but also from the surprising fact that many of the works were covered with glass; and no matter how good the museum quality of that glass, there were still added light aberrations in a few of the photos.

Today is Rembrandt’s day:

An Old Man in Military Costume, About 1630-31, Rembrandt Harmensz, van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669, Oil on panel

“This fantasy portrait belongs to the type known as a tronie, or a character study of a head. These pictures were created for sale on the open art market in Holland. Rembrandt frequently dressed the models for such portraits in fanciful costumes, as in the case of this man in military garb. The attire probably symbolizes Dutch fortitude and patriotism during the struggle for independence from Spain.”

RembrandtAnOldManInMilitaryCostume

The Abduction of Europa, 1632, Rembrandt Harmensz, van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669, Oil on panel (2 photos)

From the Getty:  “In the Metamorphoses , the ancient Roman poet Ovid told a story about the god Jupiter, who disguised himself as a white bull in order to seduce the princess Europa away from her companions and carry her across the sea to the distant land that would bear her name.

During his long career Rembrandt rarely painted mythological subjects. Here he conveys a narrative story through dramatic gesture and visual effects. Bewildered, Europa grasps the bull’s horn, digs her fingers into his neck, and turns back to look at her companions on the water’s edge. One young woman falls to the ground and raises her arms in alarm, dropping the flower garland intended for the bull’s neck into her lap, while her friend clasps her hands in consternation and watches helplessly. The carriage driver above rises to his feet and stares at the departing princess in horror. In the background, a city shrouded in mist extends along the horizon, perhaps serving as an allusion to the ancient city of Tyre as well as to contemporary Amsterdam.The dark thicket of trees to the right contrasts with the pink and blue regions of the sea and sky. Sunlight breaks through the clouds and reflects off the water, but the sky behind the trees is dark and foreboding.

A master of visual effects, Rembrandt took pleasure in describing the varied textures of sumptuous costumes and glittering gold highlights on the carriage and dresses.”

RembrandtTheAbductionOfEuropa

RembrandtTheAbductionOfEuropa

A Portrait of a Rabbi, About 1640-45, Rembrandt Harmensz, van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669, Oil on panel

“Rembrandt painted and drew numerous elderly male subjects in contemplation throughout his career. Here, strong light illuminates the man’s chest and face, which is energetically modeled with fine, textured brushstrokes. In contrast, the heavy folds of his gown and soft material of his hat are more loosely executed. Rembrandt was sensitive to Jewish tradition, and sought to capture its character through the representation of physical appearance and an internal spiritual state.”

RembrandtAPortraitOfARabbi

Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold Trimmed Cloak, 1632, Rembrandt Harmensz, van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669, Oil on panel

RembrandtPortraitOfAGirlWearingAGoldTrimmedCloakCropped

RembrandtCloseupPortraitOfAGirlWearingAGoldTrimmedCloak

And from the Getty http://www.getty.edu/art/installation_highlights/rembrandt.html:

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn‘s Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak is on temporary view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center. The work, which has not been on public view since the 1970s, is on loan from a private collection in New York.

The sitter, an unknown woman, is richly dressed in the fanciful costume Rembrandt favored for biblical and mythological paintings. He scratched in the thick, wet paint to create the pleats of the subject’s white shirt, and rendered gold embroidery on her black gown with almost an abstract series of daubs. Light from the painting’s upper left creates atmosphere behind the sitter and strongly illuminates one side of her rounded face, along with the strand of pearls in her hair and one of her large pearl earrings.

Portrait of a Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak inspired the facial types of many of Rembrandt’s heroines in the early 1630s.

RembrandtPortraitOfAGirlWearingAGoldTrimmedCloakGettyImage

We’re off on a three-day job, so more photos in a few days….

Note: All text in quotes is taken from the Getty or de Young museum placards posted beside paintings.