Study day: Dutch Art in Museums

This study day was held at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, on Friday 25 November 2011, to coincide with the exhibition ‘Vermeer’s Women: Secrets and Silence’

The study day, organised by the National Gallery and the Fitzwilliam Museum and supported by the Arts Council England, formed part of the Subject Specialist Network: European Paintings pre-1900.

The delegates were welcomed by Mary Hersov, National Programmes Manager, who outlined the aims of the Subject Specialist Network and future activities. David Scrase, Assistant Director, Collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum, explained the process by which the Louvre agreed to lend Johannes Vermeer’s 'Lacemaker' to the Fitzwilliam, and Rupert Featherstone explained the work of the Hamilton Kerr Institute.

Programme: Morning

An Introduction to the exhibition ‘Vermeer’s Women: Secrets and Silence’
Betsy Wieseman, Curator of Dutch Paintings, National Gallery, London

The exhibition, held at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, was curated by Betsy Wieseman from the National Gallery. She discussed the thought processes behind the exhibition and how it came about. With the star painting being Vermeer’s ‘Lacemaker’ on loan from the Louvre, it was important that that painting remained the focal point of the exhibition.

The way in which Vermeer portrayed women helped shape the show’s theme and was supported by the work of his contemporaries. The paintings are grouped in categories that look at women’s place in the domestilc environment: inviting the viewer into the painting; the Dutch ‘voorhuis’ (entrance hall) as the threshold between public and private space; and the voyeuristic view of private interior scenes.

Find out more about the exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum [External link]

Historicising the Dutch Golden Age: teaching and the collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum
Meredith Hale, University of Cambridge

As Speelman fellow in the History of Art Department at the University of Cambridge, Dr Hale both conducts research and teaches a special subject course on Dutch and Flemish paintings. She discussed the fundamental role the Fitzwilliam Museum collection plays in her teaching of undergraduate students about paintings as physical objects and with respect to reception and collection history.

Using various parts of the collection as focal points and spending time looking closely at individual works, students can clearly see the development of genres such as native Dutch landscape. The rich history of the Fitzwillliam Museum collection also provides an opportunity to consider how collecting tastes have changed over time and the specific role of the English collector in shaping our concept of the Dutch ‘Golden Age’.

Visit the Fitzwilliam Museum website [External link]

‘Rembrandt and the Passion’ at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow
Peter Black, Curator, Hunterian Museum, Glasgow

The focus of the Hunterian’s forthcoming exhibition, due to open September 2012, will be Rembrandt’s small oil painting, ‘The Entombment Sketch’. Peter Black introduced the painting and explained some of the ways in which it will be presented in the exhibition.

Mr Black talked about the technical studies carried out by the National Gallery on Rembrandt’s ‘Passion’, including the discovery of minute pinholes on the work as well as underdrawing revealed by infrared reflectography.

Visit the Hunterian Museum website [External link]

Next: Programme: Afternoon

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