Exhibition | Netherlandish Drawings, 15th to 18th Centuries

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 25, 2016


Now on view at the GNM in Nuremberg:

Netherlandish Drawings: Newly Discovered Works from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum
Niederländische Zeichnungen: Neu entdeckte Werke aus dem Germanischen Nationalmuseum

Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 18 February — 22 May 2016

Since the Renaissance, drawing has been particularly valued—not just because of its relevance to the creative process in all the arts, but also as an insight into an artist’s inspiration. In his Schilder-Boeck (Book of Painters) of 1604, the Dutch biographer Carel van Mander also describes it admiringly as the “father of painting.”

The prominent role of graphic art is also reflected in the GNM’s holdings of Netherlandish drawings of the 15th to 18th century, which are now being shown for the first time in a special exhibition. Featuring around 90 selected works, the exhibition traces an arc from pieces from the workshop of Jan van Eyck through to the decorative designs of Jacob de Wit. The diversity of techniques and themes so typical of the Flemish and Dutch masters is revealed in depictions of landscapes, figure studies, genre scenes, allegories or religious subjects. The exhibition also looks at the various functions of draughtsmanship: from the first sketched idea through to independent works produced for the art market.

The GNM’s Department of Prints and Drawings includes around 150 drawings by Netherlandish artists from the 15th to the 18th century. The geographical term ‘Netherlandish’ refers to both the northern provinces of Holland and the Flemish areas in present-day Belgium. With a few exceptions, these drawings, from the hand of both prominent and not so prominent masters, have remained unpublished and therefore unknown to art historical research.

The museum’s founder, Freiherr Hans von und zu Aufseß, owned Netherlandish drawings, e.g. a sheet signed and dated by Bartholomeus Spranger. However, most of the holdings were acquired through individual purchases between 1866 and 1939. The Netherlandish collection also grew in 1940 and 1982 as a result of bequests from two private collectors.

In addition to a couple of early works, the holdings contain many 17th-century drawings from the Dutch Golden Age. The pictorial genres include landscapes, figures, genre scenes, allegories and religious and mythological subjects. A few 18th-century technical drawings of Netherlandic origin from the ‘Historical Sheets’ are worthy of note as items specific to the collection. The functional relationships between the drawings are diverse, and not always obvious—studies, sketched ideas, drafts for specific paintings, printed graphics etc. can be found alongside independent works produced for the art market.

The goal is to created a printed catalogue describing and depicting the Department of Prints and Drawings’ Netherlandish drawings in accordance with scientific standards and thus open them up for further research. This work is focusing on collecting and evaluating the technical findings, stylistic peculiarities and possible functions of the drawings, particularly in view of the discussion about issues of dating and attribution. The results of the research project are presented in this special exhibition, from February 18 to May 22, 2016.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Claudia Valter, with contributions by Frank Matthias Kammel and Thomas Ketelsen, Die Niederländischen Zeichnungen 1400–1800 im Germanischen Nationalmuseum (Nuremberg, 2016), 280 pages, ISBN: 978-3936688979, 60€.

publikation165_bildDie Graphische Sammlung des Germanischen Nationalmuseums bewahrt rund 130 niederländische Zeichnungen des 15. bis einschließlich 18. Jahrhunderts, die durch Ankäufe, Schenkungen und Vermächtnisse in den Jahren 1858 bis 1982 erworben wurden. Hierzu zählen Werke von Jan Breughel d.J., Philips Koninck oder Bartholomeus Spranger, aber auch Arbeiten von weniger bekannten und anonymen Meistern. In dem vorliegenden Bestandskatalog sind die niederländischen Zeichnungen nun erstmals in ihrer Gesamtheit wissenschaftlich bearbeitet, mit Provenienzangaben sowie den technischen und bibliographischen Daten dokumentiert und farbig abgebildet. Den Katalog ergänzen Textbeiträge zur Sammlungsgeschichte niederländischer Kunst am Germanischen Nationalmuseum sowie zu den Funktionen niederländischer Zeichnungen.