Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dutch and Flemish Masterworks; The Mourners

The exhibit of 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings at the Legion of Honor closes this weekend, & I visited this afternoon, determined not to miss it. The paintings all come from the private collection of the Van Otterlo family & include examples of various popular genres, such as seascapes, church & city views, still life, portraits & allegories. Since the paintings are on the smaller side & quite detailed, everyone needs to get their noses up close, creating jams in front of the pictures. Most of these artists were unfamiliar to me, but the exacting "pen painting" of a war ship by Willem van de Velde the Elder drew a lot of admiration from visitors, as did the still lifes. Rembrandt is representing by a piercing Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh & an amazing etching of a Sleeping Puppy. It's the size of 3 stage stamps but carefully & affetionately observed. There's also a vivid Portrait of a Preacher by Hals & 2 large Van Ruysdael landscapes. The final room of "Dutch Italiante Painting" depicts sunny climes but left me cold.

I also saw The Mourners, a striking exhibit of 37 alabaster statues from the 15th century tomb of John the Fearless, 2nd duke of Burgundy. The statues are about a foot high, & at 1st they looked to me like the pieces of a giant Medieval chess set. Each has a unique presence. They are robed, & the most evocative figures are completely hooded. They normally live in their own miniature aracade, walking in an eternal funeral procession for the duke, but here they stand in the open, so we can admire them from all sides.

§ Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection
Legion of Honor
July 9, 2011 - October 2, 2011

§ The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy
Legion of Honor
August 20, 2011 - December 31, 2011


y2000k said...

We saw the van Otterloo show when it opened first in Salem, MA. I thought it was fabulous even though I didn't recognize most of the artists. Most works were meticulously and exquisitely painted with fine details. Fortunately it wasn't crowded when we saw the show - the museum even provided magnifying glasses for visitors so we could really appreciate the fine details.

We also saw the Mourners, twice actually. First in NYC, then in Dallas. In NYC, they were shown as a group together and visitors were roped off at least 10 ft away. Fortunately, when we saw the show again in Dallas, the statues were separated in smaller groups and we could get fairly close to them from all 4 sides. Did you see the one that looks like he thinks you stink?

Immanuel Gilen said...

Van Ruisdael is one of the only, if not the only artist who consistently succeeds in making me nostalgic for the time I spent in the Low Countries. I'm sad I've never managed to see View of Haarlem in real life.

Axel Feldheim said...

y2k: That is a neat idea to let gallery vistors examine the paintings with a magnifying glass. I wish I'd thought to bring one!

And I see those Mourners really get around. Here they are displayed in 2 rooms, about half in small groups & another half in 2 rows in a long table. But you can get around all sides of almost all of them. No doubt we get to see them much better than when they are in the actual tomb.

I know exactly which figure you are talking about! I assumed he was holding his nose too, until I read the label claiming he is actually "holding back his tears."

IG: Actually, I was thinking about you & your love of Van Ruisdael when I saw the ones in this show. They are especially striking in this context because most of the other works in the show are smaller, then suddenly you see this wall with 2 large, inviting landscapes. I'm sure you still have plenty of time to eventually get around to seeing these Van Ruisdaels in person!