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Indepth Arts News:

"Art from the Cape: Dutch and Flemish Masterpieces from the Cape Town Michaelis Collection"
2003-03-09 until 2003-06-15
Bonnefanten Museum
Maastricht, , NL Netherlands

From 9 March until 15 June 2003 the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht will be exhibiting a selection of works from the South African Michaelis Collection. The works on show include paintings by seventeenth-century artists from the Northern and Southern Netherlands, such as Aelbert Cuyp, Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals, Philips Koninck, Nicolaes Maes, Jacob van Ruisdael and Jan Steen, works that have hardly ever been exhibited outside South Africa, despite their high quality. Twenty-three etchings by Rembrandt and a small presentation about the donor, Sir Max Michaelis, will also be displayed alongside the 50 paintings from the collection.

A restorer from the Limburg Conservation Institute Maastricht will be working on two paintings during the exhibition. This process will be accessibly presented to the visitors.

The Michaelis Collection was put together by the diamond trader Max Michaelis in the early 20th century. In 1914, he donated the collection to the South African government in order to open the collection to the public and to gain a peerage for himself.

The collection provides an overview of the highlights of seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting. In Cape Town, the collection is permanently exhibited at the Town House Museum, the old town hall built in the days of the Dutch East India Company. At the time, to house the collection, the town hall was refurbished after the example of the Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague.

The collection offers an encyclopedic overview of Dutch and Flemish painting in the sense that the various genres, such as portrait, landscape, historical and still-life painting, are all represented with works by important artists from the Northern and Southern Netherlands, including WILLEM VAN AELST (1627-1683), LUDOLF BAKHUIZEN (1631-1708), ABRAHAM VAN BEYEREN (1620/21-1690), FERDINAND BOL (1616-1695), ALBERT CUYP (1620-1691), ANTHONY VAN DYCK (1599-1641), JAN VAN GOYEN (1596-1667), FRANS HALS (1582/83-1666), MELCHIOR D’HONDECOETER (1636-1695), PHILIPS KONINCK (1619-1688), NICOLAES MAES (1634-1693), JACOB VAN RUYSDAEL (1628/29-1682), JAN STEEN (1626-1679), EMANUEL DE WITTE (1616-1691/92) AND PHILIPS WOUWERMAN (1619-1668).

The art-historical importance of the Michaelis Collection is demonstrated in the fully illustrated scientific catalogue published by Waanders in 1997. A new, richly illustrated, colourful publication explaining the origins and background of the collection will be issued to mark the exhibition. The restoration of two paintings by Jan Steen and Willem van Aelst during the exhibition has been made possible by a generous contribution from Chubb Masterpiece (chief sponsor of TEFAF art and antiques fair). Visitors to TEFAF, which will take place from 14 to 23 March 2003, will be able to see these two works being examined using a range of techniques, including microscopes and infrared reflectography.

Frans Snijders
Bird Concert
Pam Warne, Iziko, Museums of Cape Town

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