“Masters of the Everyday : Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer”

This event was fully booked, with applications placed on a waiting list

From the Announcement in the Newsletter:

Twenty-seven of the finest 17th and 18th century Dutch paintings in the Royal Collection are brought together in this new exhibition, which opened in November. Included are works by many of the finest artists of the day, among them Johannes Vermeer, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch and Jan Steen.

The charm and fascination of Dutch genre paintings of the 17th century is the way that they capture everyday people doing everyday things. They offer us glimpses into the rumbustious life of village taverns and peasant cottages (Adriaen van Ostade’s The interior of a Peasant Cottage, 1668) and the quiet domesticity of courtyards and parlours (Pieter de Hooch’s A Courtyard in Delft, 1657).

The meticulously documented details often allude to a work’s deeper meaning or to moral messages that would have been familiar to the contemporary viewer, as in Jan Steen’s A Woman at her Toilet, 1663. The viewer takes on the role of voyeur, observing through an archway a young woman on an unmade bed in a state of undress. A lute with a broken string, a skull and a candle with its flame extinguished carry the warning that yielding to sensuality could lead to ruin.

Included in this exhibition are four works by Rembrandt van Rijn, among them Christ and St Mary Magdalen at the Tomb, 1638, acquired by George IV. The King’s fondness for Dutch paintings and, in particular, scenes of everyday life, is captured in Charles Wild’s contemporary watercolour views of rooms at Carlton House and Windsor Castle, in which a number of the paintings in the exhibition can be seen.

On a Tuesday in January.


From the Report in the Spring 2016 Newsletter:

Keen interest to tour this exhibition of Dutch paintings brought 80 Members (this was a joint Anglo-Netherlands and Neerlandia event) on 26th January to the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, where their enthusiasm was to be well rewarded. An illustrated introduction by Dawn Purkiss in the Reynolds Lecture Theatre provided a foretaste of delights to come and drew attention to the wealth of detail to be noted when viewing the 27 paintings on display. Paul Dimond delivered the listeners’  thanks to Dawn Purkiss and to Marianne Denney for organising this popular event.

The exhibition underlines the continuing royal interest in collecting Dutch works of art, both genre painting and historical connections. When for instance in 1610 the Dutch States wished to bestow gifts on Henry, Prince of Wales, the heir to the throne was eager to receive “fine paintings by the best masters of your country”. A number of paintings, including that of Charles II dancing at a Court Ball in the Noordeinde Palace just before departing for England in 1660, depict key moments recorded by Dutch artists such as Hieronymous Janssens. In 1958 The Queen acquired the 1631 painting by Gerrit van Honthorst of The Four eldest Children of the King and Queen of Bohemia whose marriage had linked the Stuart dynasty to the grandson of William the Silent.

Whilst the likely outcome of Gerard ter Borch’s picture of A Gentleman pressing a Lady to drink would be clear to all bystanders, analysing the full meaning of Jan Steen’s A Village Revel benefits from being alerted to the significance of symbols such as the dovecote denoting that the inn serves as a brothel. Studying the whole painting reveals a scene crowded with indications of debauchery, gluttony and violent affray. Nevertheless the cheerful image of the artist – himself the owner of a tavern – may suggest that reality is somewhat less sinful. A complete contrast to the raucous Steen scene is the calm atmosphere of Pieter de Hooch’s vision of A Courtyard in Delft at Evening: a Woman spinning where two female servants are conscientiously carrying out their domestic chores of spinning and carrying water for household use. The Delft scene conveys the worth of a lifetime of honest toil.

From the drama of Hendrick Pot’s Lady and Gentleman in an Interior, A startling Introduction to the humour of Nicholaes Maes’ The Listening Housewife, this is a splendid exhibition which visitors could enjoy re-visiting more than once.

The works in the exhibition are subsequently at the Palace of Holyroodhouse ( 4 March – 24 July 2016) and will be at the Mauritshuis in the autumn (‘Hollanders in huis, Vermeer en tijdgenoten uit de Britse Royal Collection’, from 29 september till 8 January 2017).