In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Netherlands experienced an extraordinary cultural development, although the country was heavily plagued by political strife at that time. It was during this period that the provinces of the Burgundian state split up into a southern part – under Spanish rule – and a northern, independent part. These parts today roughly correspond to the territories of the kingdoms of Belgium and the Netherlands. It is against the background of this separation that the art of the southern provinces is commonly referred to as "Flemish" and that of the northern provinces as "Dutch". Whilst the vastly differing tastes and needs of patrons contributed to the development of two altogether independent schools of painting, there were certain affinities which reached beyond all their many differences. Thus it is that the term "Netherlandish" – which is now used to an ever increasing extent to define the entirety of Dutch and Flemish art produced in the erstwhile Burgundian provinces – aptly embraces the common cultural basis, the preservation of longstanding traditions and the strong ties which continued to exist between artists following the separation of the two states.
Nowhere in Europe has landscape painting developed so magnificently and diversely as in the provinces of the former Burgundian Netherlands. Indeed, this is where landscape painting originated, matured and ripenend to the highest degree of perfection. For the very first time in Germany, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart is mounting an exhibition focussed on the history of this genre of painting from its spectacular beginnings in the first quarter of the 16th century through to its absolute zenith in the Baroque. The aim of the exhibition is not only to convey the intrinsic value of Dutch and Flemish landscape painting but also to enable visitors to experience the affinity which existed between these two schools. The exhibits, arranged in dialogically structured groups according to theme, comprise approximately 90 of the most beautiful landscape paintings and 30 outstanding works on paper from museums both in Germany and abroad. Starting out from such artists as the Master of the Female Half-Lengths and Herri met de Bles, who were still largely influenced by the panoramic "world landscapes" of Joachim Patinir, the exhibition shows primarily the works of those painters who stood out from the others by reason of their deliberately natural visualization of space, light and atmosphere. Jan van Amstel, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Joos de Momper and Gillis van Coninxloo, the so-called monochromists, Salomon van Ruysdael and Jan van Goyen, Hercules Segers, Philips Koninck and Jacob van Ruisdael are the protagonists along this richly facetted path of development from the panoramic backdrop through to the intimate Netherlandish "national landscape" in all its poetical intensity and idealistic excess.
The exhibition is being held under the patronage of the Dutch Embassy in Berlin and the Flemish Representation in Berlin.