Artists active in Utrecht during the first half of the seventeenth century created some of the most beautiful and luminous paintings of the Dutch Golden Age. Combining Italian theatricality and innovative lighting with Dutch sensitivity to nature, these painters produced a warm, light-filled art that celebrates the senses and the imagination. This innovative study is the first in English to present a comprehensive treatment of the achievements of this school -- the sensuous, idealized landscapes and animal paintings as well as the figure and flower paintings.Eminent authorities discuss the cultural, religious, and political conditions in Utrecht that prompted artists to develop a style different from that of artists in the rest of the Netherlands. In a country often thought of as middle-class and Protestant, the patronage of the aristocracy and an important Catholic community had a major impact on Utrecht artists, encouraging imaginative solutions to traditional subjects. In addition, a majority of Utrecht artists traveled to Italy, and their experiences in that country permeate their work.The book focuses on some eighty of the finest paintings of this group, including those by the most famous artists of the era: Abraham Bloemaert, Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerard van Honthorst, and Ambrosius Bosschaert. A wealth of comparative illustrations convey the richness of the school at its height.This beautiful book is the catalogue for an exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, September through November 1997; the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, January to April 1998; and the National Gallery, London, May through July 1998.
This beautiful catalog presents a comprehensive treatment of the achievements of the Utrecht school of painters. Unlike their more well known compatriots, Rembrandt and Vermeer, who perfected naturalistic portraits of seventeenth-century Dutch cultural life, the Utrecht masters (including Abraham Bloemart and Cornelis van Poelenburch) infused their canvases with a blend of mythological imagination, baroque religiosity, and a Dutch sense of nature. Van Poelenburch's Landscape with the Flight into Egypt, which sets the biblical flight of Joseph and Mary against a vast seventeenth-century Utrecht landscape, is one of many examples of this distinctive artistic approach. The catalog also features eight scholarly essays on the sociopolitical milieu that gave rise to the Utrecht school. As a predominantly Catholic province, Utrecht proved both receptive to the Caravaggesque sensibilities of these artists and more generous in its patronage of their works than other parts of Protestant mercantile Holland. The writing is at times uneven, but overall this is a solid academic study that promises to broaden our understanding of Dutch art. Veronica Scrol
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