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Indepth Arts News:

"Utrecht's Golden Age: Caravaggists and Italianists from Dutch Collections"
2001-06-29 until 2001-09-23
Centraal Museum
Utrecht, , NL

The Golden Age of Dutch art is generally associated with painters like Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals who are typically identified with just one of the Republic1s provinces: Holland. Less well known is Utrecht1s Golden Age. Seventeenth-century Utrecht was the cradle of Dutch art, the centre in which various styles and themes where developed. The Centraal Museum in Utrecht therefore invited Dr Albert Blankert to mark his coming retirement from Utrecht University by organising a major exhibition on the subject for this summer.

Blankert, who began his career as a curator at the Centraal Museum in 1962 and subsequently achieved renown as one of the world1s leading Rembrandt and Vermeer specialists, chose a selection of key works from Dutch museum and private collections.

Albert Blankert has assembled the very best work produced in Utrecht's Golden Age: in all around fifty of the finest paintings are featured. At least half are from Dutch museum and private collections, the rest are from the Centraal Museum itself - home of the world1s largest collection of Utrecht's Golden Age paintings.

It was the Caravaggists who gave painting in Utrecht in this period its own unique character. This new, international style owed its inspiration to the work of Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) and exercised a major influence on the development of seventeenth-century painting. Rembrandt1s dramatic naturalism, for example, had its roots in Caravaggism. In fact Caravaggio1s influence was even more widespread: in addition to artists from Utrecht, Rome also attracted painters from the rest of Italy, Spain and France. In Utrecht a local variation of the style developed, with Dirck van Baburen, Paulus Bor, Hendrick ter Brugghen and Gerard van Honthorst among its leading proponents. Because of the virtuosity of his chiaroscuro (light-dark), Honthorst was known among contemporaries as 'Gherardo delle Notti'.

In addition to the Caravaggists, the Italianists also travelled to Italy and drew their inspiration from the south of Europe. These landscapists lived and worked in the early half of the seventeenth century, around the same time as Van Goyen and Ruisdael, and exercised as great an influence on Dutch landscape art as their - now more famous - fellow artists. Many of them spent several years in Italy, cultivating their fascination with the Italian light and the Mediterranean atmosphere. Rather than the Dutch countryside, their works feature the towns, mountains and woods of Italy. Leading Utrecht Italianists included Cornelis van Poelenburch, Jan Both and Jan Baptist Weenix.

The exhibition is accompanied by a free booklet containing Albert Blankert1s descriptions of the various exhibits as well as an introduction explaining his choice.

Gerard van Honthorst
De koppelaarster / The Procuress

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