The Staatsgalerie’s rich holdings of Netherlandish prints and drawings go back to the nineteenth century and have since been strategically expanded with exemplary works. The selection of artists shown – among them Abraham Bloemaert, Allart van Everdingen, Jacob Jordaens and Roelant Savery – echoes that of the parallel exhibition of paintings. Also on show are works created by the artists’ contemporaries, for example by members of the Rembrandt School. The exhibition brings together key themes and genres that characterise Netherlandish art of the period – from portraits, landscapes and scenes of everyday life to religious and mythological subjects.
The selection of works on paper offers an insight into artistic developments between the sixteenth and the early eighteenth century and spans the Mannerist and Baroque periods, the celebrated Dutch »Golden Age«.
Technically, too, the selection presents a rich spectrum. The drawing media of pencil and chalk allowed artists to depict reality with great immediacy. Many drawings were executed naer het leven (from life): scenes of everyday life as well as landscape studies and topographically accurate city views. Preparatory sketches and compositional studies in pen or brush and ink formed the basis for paintings. But many of the elaborate, technically complex drawings were conceived as works of art in their own right. Signed or monogrammed, they were destined for the burgeoning collectors’ market.
In the second half of the sixteenth century the connoisseur taste for drawings was paralleled by a surge of interest in prints, which found expression in the growing demand for engravings, etchings, print portfolios and illustrated books. Whereas each drawing is a unique work of art, the significance of prints lies in their near-infinite reproducibility. Often published in large editions, prints brought Netherlandish art to audiences all over Europe and spread the fame of artists, engravers and publishers.
The thematic and stylistic diversity of the exhibition highlights the distinctiveness of the graphic arts and invites visitors to take a closer look at their place in the extraordinary flourishing of Dutch and Flemish art that has come to be known as the »Golden Age«.
The accompanying catalogue, “Brueghel, Rubens, Ruisdael. Die Graphische Sammlung zeigt ihre Schätze”, serves as an introduction to the significance of Netherlandish drawing and printmaking of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries and provides an overview of the diversity of themes depicted with those media. Commentary on selected works in the exhibition gives insight into the department’s rich holdings. The catalogue (48 pages with 39 illustrations) is available in the museum shop for 9.80 EUR.