Exhibition dates: September 18, 2007 – January 6, 2008
Exhibition location: Special Exhibition Galleries, 2nd floor
The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present, for the first time, all of the Metropolitan Museum's 228 Dutch paintings (dating mostly from the 1600s), widely considered the greatest collection of Dutch art outside Europe. Normally, only about 100 Dutch paintings are on view in the Museum. This comprehensive exhibition will provide a unique opportunity for visitors to view the collection of Dutch paintings as a whole. The exhibition also commemorates the 400th anniversary year of Rembrandt's birth and coincides with the publication of the first complete catalogue of Dutch paintings in the Metropolitan Museum.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns 20 paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn (including such famous works as Aristotle with a Bust of Homer and his Self-portrait of 1660), 11 paintings by Frans Hals, and five of the 35 known paintings by Johannes Vermeer. Also in the collection are exceptional groups of Dutch landscape painting (by Jacob van Ruisdael, Meindert Hobbema, Aelbert
Cuyp, and other masters) and of genre pictures (scenes of everyday life), still lifes,
marine views, portraits, and historical and biblical subjects. Masters who have
recently been the subjects of monographic exhibitions in other museums – such as Gerard ter Borch and Pieter de Hooch – are richly represented in the Metropolitan Museum's collection. Many of these works never leave the Museum.
The exhibition is made possible by Accenture.
The exhibition will take place in 12 galleries and will present the Museum's entire collection of Dutch paintings (ca. 1600-1800) in approximate order of acquisition, from the founding purchase of 1871, to the major gifts and bequests of the 1880s through the 1940s, and finally to the strategic accessions of the 1950s onward. Reflecting how the Museum's great collection of Dutch paintings is closely linked with the institution's history, the installation will outline how the collection was formed, following the taste for Dutch art in America and among New York's great collectors.
Many of the 174 paintings acquired in the "1871 Purchase" made by the Museum were from the Dutch school, including masterworks such as Jan van Goyen's View of Haarlem and the Haarlemmer Meer and Salomon van Ruysdael's Drawing the Eel. These paintings were coveted on both sides of the Atlantic and secured the young Museum an "enviably solid foundation for future acquisition and development," as Henry James wrote in a well-known essay published in the Atlantic Monthly in the summer of 1872.
Despite the Museum's ambitious beginnings, not many paintings were acquired for
another decade, due to one of the worst depressions in American history, which
took place in 1873. Over the next ten years, however, industry boomed in
America, trade flourished, and the rise of private income gave way to the new millionaires of the Gilded Age (ca. 1875-1900). The most important collectors of this period for the Museum – such as Henry Marquand, J. P. Morgan, and Louisine and H. O. Havemeyer – sought out masterpieces by Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer, Van Ruisdael, among other Dutch artists. Dutch pictures had been favored by collectors in England, France, and Germany throughout the 19th century, but their appeal in the United States was intensified by the notion that American values – democracy, closeness to nature, family life, and the "Protestant ethic" of hard work – were anticipated by the middle-class society of the Dutch Republic. During this period, Rembrandt's Self-portrait, Vermeer's Young Woman with a Water Jug and A Maid Asleep, Hals's Merrymakers at Shrovetide, Portrait of a Man, Young Man and Woman in an Inn ("Yonker Ramp and his Sweetheart"), Van Ruisdael's Wheatfields and Aelbert Cuyp's Young Herdsman with Cows all entered the Museum's collection.
The contributions of later collectors and contributors – such as Benjamin Altman
(whose Rembrandts, Halses, and early Vermeer will be grouped together in one grand gallery), Arabella Huntington, William K. Vanderbilt, Jules Bache, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, and Jack and Belle Linsky – and of curators and directors, will be acknowledged frequently throughout the exhibition. The last gallery will feature works acquired since about 1960, including Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, the only Rembrandt painting ever purchased by the Metropolitan Museum, Vermeer's Study of a Young Woman, Steen's The Dissolute Household, and De Witte's Interior of the Old Church in Delft. Also in this gallery, eight Dutch paintings that were gifts of the New York collectors Frits and Rita Markus will be exhibited for the first time as part of the Museum's collection.
Exhibition Credits, Catalogue and Bulletin
The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art is organized by Walter Liedtke, Curator in the Metropolitan Museum's Department of European Paintings.
The exhibition will coincide with the first comprehensive catalogue of Dutch paintings in the Metropolitan Museum. A two-volume set written by Walter Liedtke, Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is available in the Museum's bookshops. It will be sold for the duration of the exhibition at the special introductory price of $150, and afterward for $175.
The catalogue is made possible by Hata Stichting Foundation and
Mr. and Mrs. M.E. Zukerman.
Additional support is provided by the Kowitz Family Foundation and
The Christian Humann Foundation.
The Museum will also publish an enlarged issue of the Bulletin that describes the formation of its collection of Dutch paintings. This publication, written by Esmée Quodbach, a specialist in the history of collections, is entitled The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and is for sale in the Museum's bookshops ($24.95).
This issue of the Bulletin is supported by Hata Stichting Foundation.
It is made possible through the generosity of the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, established by the cofounder of Reader's Digest.
An audio tour of the exhibition, part of the Metropolitan's Audio Guide program, will be available for rental ($7, $6 for members, and $5 for children under 12).
The Audio Guide program is sponsored by Bloomberg.
The Museum's audio podcast program will include an episode by Walter Liedtke on the age of Rembrandt, in conjunction with the exhibition. It will be available online at www.metmuseum.org.
The Metropolitan Museum will offer a variety of education programs in conjunction with the exhibition, including Sunday at the Met programs on September 16 and October 14 and a teacher workshop on December 8. The exhibition will also be featured on the Museum's Web site at www.metmuseum.org.
Related Exhibition at the Metropolitan
In conjunction with the exhibition The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a related installation of prints and drawings from the Museum's collection will be on display in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery from September 18, 2007, through January 6, 2008. Drawings and Prints from Holland's Golden Age: Highlights from the Collection will present a selection of drawings and prints by artists active in Holland during the 17th century. The works will include drawings and etchings by Rembrandt, Adriaen van Ostade, Willem Buytewech, Jacques de Gheyn, Aelbert Cuyp, and Jacob van Ruisdael.
September 7, 2007