A Christmas present for the nation

Issued December 2017

“I love to share with other people the richness and the beauty of paintings of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, which I have collected.”

('Collected and Reflected', Willem Baron van Dedem)

Visitors to the National Gallery can from tomorrow (13 December 2017) enjoy four exceptional Dutch and Flemish paintings, which are generous bequests to the collection from Willem Baron van Dedem.

The renowned Dutch-born collector, who was based in London, died in November 2015 at the age of 86. For many years he had promised to give the National Gallery four paintings upon his death, and particularly desired that the works selected from his collection address gaps in the Gallery’s holdings and be on display to the public.

His son, Frits Baron van Dedem, says:

"We are honoured that the National Gallery acknowledges the quality and rarity of these four paintings that our father/grandfather collected over a period of more than fifty years It gives us great pleasure that the Gallery has decided to showcase these extraordinary works of art with the public."

'Christ crowned with Thorns' by David Teniers the Younger (1641), 'Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Common Hawthorn and Forget-Me-Not' and 'Butterflies and Moths and Insects with Sprays of Creeping Thistle and Borage' both by Jan van Kessel the Elder (both 1654), along with 'Still Life with a Bowl of Strawberries, a Spray of Gooseberries, Asparagus and a Plum' by Adriaen Coorte (1703), are on display in Room 26 from 13 December 2017.

Adriaen Coorte, 'Still Life with a Bowl of Strawberries, a Spray of Gooseberries, Asparagus and a Plum', 1703 © The National Gallery, London. Gift from the collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, 2017

'Still Life with a Bowl of Strawberries, a Spray of Gooseberries, Asparagus and a Plum' (above) is one of Coorte’s most ambitious compositions. Coorte’s work is not represented in the National Gallery Collection, and there are only four other works by him in UK public collections, so this small but powerful painting is an important addition to the Gallery’s holdings of still lifes painted in the latter part of the 17th century. It also offers visitors an intriguing alternative to the lavish abundance of works by Willem Kalf or Jan van Huysum.

Jan van Kessel the Elder is another artist who until now was not represented in the National Gallery Collection. He belonged to one of the most famous artistic ‘dynasties’ in European painting: Jan Brueghel the Elder was his grandfather, and Jan Brueghel the Younger and David Teniers the Younger were uncles.

Jan van Kessel the Elder, 'Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Common Hawthorn and Forget-Me-Not', 1654 © The National Gallery, London. Gift from the collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, 2017

An image of Jan van Kessel the Elder's, 'Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Creeping Thistle and Borage', 1654 in the National Gallery, London. A gift from the collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, 2017

Jan van Kessel the Elder, 'Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Creeping Thistle and Borage', 1654 © The National Gallery, London. Gift from the collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, 2017

Van Kessel continued the family tradition of painting small-scale, brightly coloured and minutely detailed paintings on panel or copper, which were avidly sought after by collectors throughout Europe. He is best known for his depictions of flowers, insects and animals, both living and dead, as seen in his 'Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Common Hawthorn and Forget-Me-Not' and 'Butterflies and Moths and Insects with Sprays of Creeping Thistle and Borage'. Few works represent so well the 17th-century fascination with the natural world.

David Teniers the Younger specialised in everyday scenes and made only a handful of religious works throughout his long career. Until today, the National Gallery did not have a prime example of one of his religious paintings. By using familiar figures clad in contemporary dress, and by situating the action in what could be a local garrison, Teniers heightens the immediacy and pathos of the scene.

David Teniers the Younger, 'Christ Crowned with Thorns', 1641 © The National Gallery, London. Gift from the collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, 2017

 

'Christ crowned with Thorns' (above) is painted on an exceptionally large copper plate, and is beautifully preserved, allowing us to appreciate the artist’s colourful palette and his detailed and assured technique. While the Gallery has several large-scale history paintings by Rubens and van Dyck, until the acquisition of this work it has not been able to represent the sort of intimate and finely painted representations of historical themes that formed an integral part of sophisticated collectors’ cabinets in the 17th century.

Bart Cornelis, National Gallery Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings, says:

“It is through the tremendous generosity of Willem van Dedem that the Gallery can now show works by Adriaen Coorte and Jan van Kessel, neither of whom were represented at Trafalgar Square, while an impressive work by Teniers will allow visitors to see how a scene from the Passion of Christ was interpreted as a contemporary event in 17th-century Flanders.”

National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says:

“Willem van Dedem wanted to share his passion for fine Dutch and Flemish paintings by giving the National Gallery these four pictures. He is the most recent in a long line of distinguished collectors who have enriched the Gallery’s holdings for the enjoyment of the public.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

Dutch-born Willem Baron van Dedem (1929–2015) lived at Trumpeter’s House in Richmond with his second wife, Ronaldina (Ronny). He was the great-nephew of the Dutch shipping magnate Daniel George van Beuningen, whose large and important collection of Old Master and 19th-century paintings, decorative art, and works on paper was given to the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam upon his death in 1955. Van Dedem began collecting in the 1960s, and his collection ultimately included about eighty works, mostly Dutch and Flemish paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries. From 1997, Baron van Dedem was president of TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair). In addition to the gifts to the National Gallery, he also made generous bequests to the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

IMAGES

Adriaen Coorte (1659/1664 – in or after 1707)
'Still Life with a Bowl of Strawberries, a Spray of Gooseberries, Asparagus and a Plum', 1703
Oil on paper on canvas, 36.8 x 43.5 cm
© The National Gallery, London. Gift from the collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, 2017

Jan van Kessel the Elder (1626–1679)
'Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Common Hawthorn and Forget-Me-Not', 1654
'Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Creeping Thistle and Borage', 1654 Both: Oil on panel, Both: 11.7 x 14.5 cm
© The National Gallery, London. Gift from the collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, 2017

David Teniers the Younger (1610–1690)
'Christ crowned with Thorns', 1641
Oil on copper, 57 x 75 cm
© The National Gallery, London. Gift from the collection of Willem Baron van Dedem, 2017

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