Skip to main content

FAA Newsletter I

Dear [firstname] [lastname], This is the first Newsletter we created. Any comments/input/questions from our readers on content and format are welcome. The contents of this Newsletter as well as paintings mentioned can be found on our website, www.aetas-aurea.com. INTERVIEW VOLKSKRANT 31.8.2005 ‘Niet omdat het Rembrandt is’ In elke kunstcollectie springt er wel een werk uit waarop de verzamelaar verliefd is. Deze week de favoriete aankoop van George Kremer George Kremer neemt snel beslissingen. En misschien is dat wel de reden van zijn succes. Als handelaar in ruwe olie, vroeger, en nu als verzamelaar van voornamelijk zeventiende-eeuwse Noordnederlandse schilderijen. ‘Of dat snelle beslissen een verworven vaardigheid is of stupiditeit, weet ik niet’, zegt de 54-jarige Kremer. ‘Maar gelukkig heb ik nooit gigantisch geblunderd met een aankoop.’ Net als de meeste verzamelaars mijdt hij liever de schijnwerpers. Hij wilde slechts meewerken onder de voorwaarde dat het over zijn schilderijen ging, niet over hem. Kremer laat zich adviseren door bevriende kenners en door zijn vrouw. ‘Die duwt me in een richting. Ze geeft haar mening op gevoel, heeft het niet over glimlichtjes of techniek. Haar mening is bijna altijd de druppel.’ Tien jaar geleden begon Kremer met verzamelen, nadat hij zich uit het zakenleven had teruggetrokken. Meer dan vijftig procent van zijn tijd zit nu in de collectie. Lezen en studeren, en veel veilingen en musea bezoeken. Maar Kremer maakt zich geen illusies: ‘Als particulier heb je achterstand. Ik zal nooit de ogen van een kenner als Simon Levie hebben. Maar ik kan wel de kriebels krijgen van een schilderij.’ Een verzamelaar vragen om zijn lieveling is een ramp. Je roept twijfel en onrust op, alsof je een moeder vraagt naar haar favoriete kind. Kremer dacht er dagen over, en bleek minstens vijf echte favorieten te hebben: ‘Zoals zo’n Adriaen Hanneman, die zichzelf afbeeldt, aan het eind van zijn leven als hij ziek is. Met zoveel trots. Hij laat zien wat hij als kunstenaar waard is. Die passie vind ik geweldig.’ Er zijn meer mannen met passie in de Kremercollectie. Koopmannen, geschilderd door Frans Hals of Jacob Backer. ‘Ik wil geen male chauvinist pig zijn, maar de mannen waren toen gewoon aantrekkelijker. Vrouwen waren vaak wat gedwee. Op een paar uitzonderingen na natuurlijk.’ Een van die uitzonderingen is een andere favoriet uit zijn collectie, de Jonge bediende (ca. 1660) van Michael Sweerts. Geschilderd van dichtbij, net als Vermeers Meisje met de parel. ‘Ze heeft zo’n melancholieke blik. Je blijft je maar dingen afvragen als je voor dat werk staat. Wat heeft ze meegemaakt? Waar komt ze vandaan?’ Het werk hangt in het Haagse Mauritshuis, naast Vermeers meisje. Ze kenden elkaar, de twee schilders. Veel van Kremers schilderijen hangen in musea, de rest is in opslag. Hij heeft thuis geen schilderijen hangen – deels omdat de in-en uitvoerregels scherp zijn in landen waar hij resideert. Een andere reden is dat hij ervan geniet om de werken in een museumzaal te zien hangen. Dat ze staande blijven tussen de andere kwaliteitswerken. Hij vindt het leuk om bezoekers te horen praten over zijn schilderijen. ‘Je bent als verzamelaar uiteindelijk maar een tijdelijke beheerder. Ze zijn een beetje eeuwig, die schilderijen.’ En dan de lieveling, omdat Kremer er toch een moest kiezen. Het klinkt cliché, maar het is toch zijn Rembrandt geworden. ‘En niet omdat het een Rembrandt is’, zegt hij nog. Maar eigenlijk wel, want niemand kon zo betoverend schilderen als de meester. Kremer werd zenuwachtig toen hij het schilderij zag, zoals hij zenuwachtig werd toen hij als kind voor het eerst het Joodse bruidje zag. ‘Niks zeggen’, zei hij nog tegen zijn vrouw’. De handelaar stond naast hen. De Oude man met tulband (1627-28) werd verkocht als een Jacques des Rousseau. Pas enkele jaren later stelde het Rembrandt Research Project vast dat het een Rembrandt is. De handtekening staat er in de natte verf in. Het schilderij hangt nu in het Mauritshuis. Kremer was bij de eerste aanblik gegrepen door de kop van de man. Zijn ogen, de reflecties van licht in de schaduwdelen, het doorbloede oor. Het werd er zo een. Een snelle beslissing. Wieteke van Zeil Foto-onderschrift: Rembrandt van Rijn, Kop van een oude man met tulband, c.1627-28. Te zien in het Mauritshuis in Den Haag. MANET IN ROME – Sailing Ships and Seagulls by Edouard Manet (not published on our website; Rouart Wildenstein 1975 no. 77 and there named Bateau de peche, arrivant vent arriere), a marine painting by Edouard Manet, will be shown at the exhibition Manet at the Complesso del Vittoriano in Rome, 7 October 2005 – 5 February 2006. The exhibition – the first ever in Italy of Manet’s work – will provide a comprehensive selection of paintings, watercolors and drawings. Etching and lithography, which played crucial roles in Manet’s art, will be accorded considerable prominence as well, both in the exhibition and the catalogue which will accompany it. Complesso del Vittoriano Viale Bruno Buozzi 77 – 00197 Roma phone: + 39 06 3225380 email: museovittoriano@tiscali.it October, 7 2005 – February 5, 2006 NORTHERN NOCTURNES: NIGHTSCAPES IN THE AGE OF REMBRANDT * Herdsmen by a fire by Leonard Bramer * Village Fire by Adam Colonia will be shown in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. FAA had an interview with Adriaan Waiboer, Curator of Northern European Art at the National Gallery of Ireland and organizer of the exhibition: 1. What is the exhibition about? Northern Nocturnes shows Dutch and Flemish seventeenth-century nightscapes, i.e. landscapes, cityscapes and scenes in which nature plays a dominant role. Although most of the works in the exhibition are by night, I decided to include some by evening, because the challenge in both moon- and twilight landscapes were the same, namely to depict nature and figures in the dark. As a result, those artists interested in nights also painted evenings. 2. What are you most excited about in this exhibition? The starting point of the whole project was to attempt to unite Rembrandt’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin) with Adam Elsheimer’s Flight into Egypt (Alte Pinakothek, Munich). The latter work, the most influential nocturne of the seventeenth-century, inspired Rembrandt to paint his masterpiece. Both pictures have been illustrated side by side in numerous books on Rembrandt, but have never been exhibited in the same room. I am very much excited that this is finally happening during Northern Nocturnes. Moreover, Peter Paul Rubens, a friend and great admirer of Elsheimer, also made his variation of Flight into Egypt. I am very pleased that Rubens’ painting (Staatliche Museen Kassel) is part of the exhibition as well. 3. The exhibition consists of paintings only? Initially, I planned to include paintings only, but when I saw Jan van de Velde the Younger’s stunning night prints, I realised that a survey of Dutch and Flemish nightscapes absolutely had to include some of his engravings. Soon after, I found a drawing by Pieter de With in our own collection, which, for a long time, had been attributed to Elsheimer, and had been lent to several shows under this name. It is a beautiful rendering of a hilly forest after sunset inspired by Elsheimer’s Aurora, or more accurately, Hendrick Goudt’s print after it. When looking at it for the first time, I immediately decided to include it as well. After that, there was no reason not to request remarkable works on paper, such as Hendrick Avercamp’s Fishermen by Moonlight (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). Moreover, I realised that Barent Fabritius made the only contemporary variation on Rembrandt’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt, a drawing showing shepherds by a fire at night time (Hamburger Kunsthalle). I could not resist requesting that as well. 4. How is Northern Nocturnes different from other exhibitions on this subject, such as Die Nacht (The Night), held in 1998/99 in the Haus der Kunst in Munich? Die Nacht was a huge show with more than three hundred-and-fifty works, mostly paintings. Works of art from various countries, times, schools and styles were shown side by side. The exhibition highlighted many different aspects of the night, ranging from pure nightscapes to representations of the personification of the night. In my view, the weakness of Die Nacht was its diversity, which was obviously intended to overwhelm the viewer, but in the end led to incoherence. Paul Klee’s Luna der Barbaren has little in common with Gerrit van Honthorst’s Christ’s Youth, except for the fact that the night plays a role in both works. Northern Nocturnes is much smaller and concentrates on how seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish artist painted the outdoors at night. Because of its focus, it is able to spotlight the relevant developments much better. 5. Most thematic exhibitions in your field either show works of art by Dutch or Flemish artists. Why does Northern Nocturnes include pictures from the northern and the southern Netherlands? As I mentioned before, Rembrandt was not the only northern European artist to make a variation on Elsheimer’s painting. Rubens did so as well. Studying Rubens’s nocturnes, I realised that Flemish night and evening landscapes, produced during the second half of the 1630s, must have played a role in the rise of the Dutch nocturne from in the early 1640s. It cannot be a coincidence that the Amsterdam painter Aert van der Neer, the most accomplished specialist in nightscapes, started painting evenings and nights around 1643, just a few years after Rubens, Adriaen Brouwer and Jan Lievens had made some of the most stunning nocturnes of the century. As a result, I found it absolutely necessary to exhibit both aspects in this survey. Furthermore, in my opinion, the differences between the northern and southern Netherlands are often overemphasized. The exchanges of artistic ideas were more frequent than we realise. 6. Can you tell us about the history of Dutch and Flemish night scenes? Unfortunately, this cannot be explained in a few words. The origins of nocturnes are to be found in biblical imagery, specifically in fifteenth-century book illumination. Subjects such as the Arrest of Christ and the Agony in the Garden featured night skies and a moon in the background. However, at that time, the biblical story was the focal point, and artists were not that interested in painting the night realistically. Light sources had a symbolic function, while figures, although represented under a moon, were lit as if by daylight. Gradually, artists had more eye for the way objects are shaped by light sources, and how different types create different glows and reflections. Moreover, in their pursuit to depict their own surrounding with increasing naturalism, artists preferred to omit the biblical stories and concentrate on depicting light effects in the dark. This became paramount around the middle of the seventeenth century, when the nocturne reached its apex in the northern and southern Netherlands. 7. How do these works relate to Caravaggism and in particular to Northern Netherlandish Caravaggism? Just like the Utrecht painters Gerrit van Honthorst, Hendrick ter Brugghen and Dirck van Baburen, who followed the powerful chiaroscuro effects of Caravaggio, painters of nightscapes were primarily interested in how to shape objects, figures and space by means of light. However, the nightscapes in Northern Nocturnes are outdoor scenes and are lit by the moon, stars, and torch light. The paintings by the Caravaggisti are predominantly interiors lit by candles. These scenes are all about the drama created by the interaction of the figures and the lighting. Nightscapes are much more serene and show how the world around us changes when the sun has set. Another important distinction is that Adam Elsheimer’s night scenes, which played such a crucial role in the development of the nocturnes in northern Europe, had not been influenced by Caravaggio’s work, but by Jacopo Bassano’s and Albrecht Altdorfer’s paintings. 8. What about a catalogue accompanying the exhibition? The catalogue includes two essays and short entries on all the works of the exhibition. The first essay (written by me) is an introduction surveying the Dutch and Flemish seventeenth-century nocturne. Michiel Franken (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague) wrote a superb essay on Rembrandt’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt and the way it relates to Elsheimer’s Flight into Egypt. Rather than emphasizing the similarities between the two masterpieces, which has been done many times before, Franken explains how Rembrandt, by using even more ingenious pictorial means, was able to surpass his example. “Northern Nocturnes: Nightscapes in the Age of Rembrandt” 1 October – 11 December 2005 National Gallery of Ireland. Millennium Wing. Tickets: full price Euros 7, Concessions Euros 4. Audio tour included in ticket admission. Ticket line: +353 (0) 1 663 3513 How to Find Us: National Gallery of Ireland Merrion Square & Clare Street, Dublin 2. Telephone + 353 (0) 1 661 5133 Website www.nationalgallery.ie Gallery Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 9.30am-5.30pm; Thursday 9.30am-8.30pm; Sunday 12.00pm-5.30pm Please note, last admission to exhibitions in the Millennium Wing is 4.10pm, Monday to Saturday and 7.10pm on Thursdays. NEW ACQUISITION FAA is pleased to announce the acquisition of a 17th century work on panel which we hope to fully publish on this website in our next Newsletter, including picture.