Reliving the Golden Age at the Bruce
The work of Caravaggio had a tremendous influence on what would become a golden age in the Netherlands of the 16th Century. Artists flocked to the region — by some estimates as many as 3,000 — and were soon embarking on work that would capture the visible world in myriad ways.
These painters moved from then– revered history paintings to specialize in genre paintings, portraiture, landscapes and seascapes. Their still lifes reflected the wealth and increased sophistication of that seafaring region, championing the hunt, as well as sumptuous and exotic fruits and flowers that were now adorning banquet tables.
“Northern Baroque Splendor,” completing a six-month stop (the first of two in the United States) at The Bruce Museum, offers a comprehensive overview of this time of artistic growth, ferment and technical prowess. It draws upon 64 works from the Hohenbuchau Collection in Vienna, one of the largest and most varied of Northern Baroque art assembled in recent decades.
Dr. Peter C. Sutton, the Bruce’s executive director and a Baroque scholar in his own right, first encountered the collection about a dozen years ago in Germany and has written the collection’s impressive catalogue.
While there are no Vermeers and just one Rembrandt on display, there are many remarkable works by other known masters, from world landscapes (weltlandschaft) by Joos de Momper to interiors illuminated by artificial light by the virtuosic fijnschilder artist Gerard Dou.
“This is one of biggest exhibits we’ve had at the Bruce — it takes up our main and arcade gallery,” Sutton said. He hopes visitors “will leave with an awareness of the remarkable technical brilliance, the naturalism, the verve and beauty of baroque painting in its many forms.”
Artists at the time were executing works on a wide-ranging continuum, from seemingly invisible applications of paint to vigorous brushwork.