It’s one of the most exciting episodes in art history, and one that still delights today. In the 17th century Dutch Republic – a newly wealthy and independent nation – the art of painting flourished like never before. Dutch artists sensitively observed the beauty of the world around them, transforming it with great skilImmerse yourself in outstanding works of art by the greatest Dutch painters of the 17th centuryl into vivid and compelling paintings, from intense portraits and dramatic seascapes, to tranquil scenes of domestic life and careful studies of fruit and flowers.
The first major exhibition of Dutch masters in Sydney, Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum, comprises 78 exceptional works of art from the renowned Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, as part of the Sydney International Art Series 2017-2018.
Art Gallery of New South Wales director Dr Michael Brand said the close collaboration with the Rijksmuseum – the museum with the finest and most representative collection of Netherlandish art in the world – has enabled the Gallery to show art from Holland at its best.
“The Rijksmuseum is the jewel in the crown of the Netherlands’ cultural institutions and this exhibition offers visitors an exceptional opportunity to experience the Dutch masters, in particular Rembrandt and Vermeer, the two geniuses of Dutch art,” Brand said.
Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age presents a richly unfolding panorama of Dutch art and life during the 17th century – an era of unparalleled wealth, power and cultural confidence. The exhibition explores the subject matter that Dutch painters specialised in, and perfected, during this period.
Alongside masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer are outstanding paintings by Jacob van Ruisdael, regarded as the greatest landscapist of the Golden Age, and Jan Davidsz de Heem, renowned for his dynamic, colourful compositions of flowers. Subject matter also includes interior scenes, landscapes, townscapes and architecture and marine and history painting.
AGNSW exhibition curator Peter Raissis said Vermeer’s luminous Woman reading a letter (1663) and one of Rembrandt’s greatest works, Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul (1661), both of which are viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year in the Rijksmuseum’s famed Gallery of Honour, are at the heart of the exhibition in Sydney.
“Visitors will see both these works in rare, close proximity, as well as an entire room dedicated to Rembrandt. The Rembrandt room includes seven oils and 16 of Rembrandt’s finest etchings, in superb quality impressions, including biblical and secular subjects,” Raissis said.