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Indepth Arts News:

"Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Master Draughtsman and Humanist"
2001-05-24 until 2001-08-05
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Rotterdam, , NL Netherlands

In association with New York's Metropolitan Museum the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum plans a major survey of Pieter Bruegel's drawings and prints. As well as a painter, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525-Brussels 1569) was a superb draughtsman. More than fifty of his surviving sixty-eight drawings will be on show in the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum. In addition, his graphic work will be represented by some forty prints. The exhibits come from European and American museums and various private collections. Due to the rarity and fragility of these works on paper, an exhibition of this size is an exceptional event.

Drawings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder were last seen in public at an exhibition in Berlin in 1975. Since then, scholarly research has considerably added to our knowledge of Bruegel's prints and drawings. One of the consequences of this research is that a large number of drawings are no longer attributed to him. The Rotterdam and New York exhibitions convey an impression of this revised oeuvre for the first time. Some of the de-attributed sheets will however be shown in order to illustrate how our view of Bruegel as a draughtsman/designer has come to assume clearer form.

Bruegel's drawings and prints will be supplemented by three 'dossier' exhibitions - small presentations with a primarily educational slant - highlighting certain facets. They feature (a) the Master of the Small Landscapes (an artist from Bruegel's circle who was the father of the Netherlandish village and country scene and apparently the maker of most of the drawings formerly attributed to Bruegel), (b) the import and export of art (notably prints) in Antwerp and Brussels in the sixteenth century, and (c) the intellectual climate in those cities between 1550 and 1585. The underlying idea is humanism in Bruegel's work, focusing on such aspects as religious tolerance, the relationship between town and country, the interaction between different social groups and the function of satire and mockery. These facets reflect the theme of the Rotterdam Cultural Capital 2001 event and presage the exhibition of Hieronymus Bosch paintings to be held in the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum later that year as part of the same event.

After Rotterdam, 'Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Master Draughtsman and Humanist' can only be seen at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The exhibition is accompanied by an English scholarly catalogue and by a Dutch edition aimed at a wider readership.

The Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum is the only Dutch museum to boast works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in its collection. In addition to eight drawings and ten prints, the museum owns his world-famous painting 'The Tower of Babel', which will occupy pride of place in the exhibition.

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