New York City.- The Morgan Library & Museum is proud to present “Rembrandt’s World: Dutch Drawings from the Clement C. Moore Collection”, on view at the museum through April 29th. Bolstered by its recent political independence, economic prosperity, and maritime supremacy, the Dutch Republic witnessed an artistic flourishing during the seventeenth century, known as the Dutch Golden Age. “Rembrandt’s World” presents over ninety drawings by some of the preeminent artists of the period, among them Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn and his followers Ferdinand Bol and Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Abraham Bloemaert, Aelbert Cuyp and Jan van Goyen.
The Dutch Republic of the seventeenth century was a federation of seven states (Holland, Zeeland, Gelderland, Utrecht, Friesland, Overijssel, and Groningen). The exhibition focuses on artists who worked primarily in their native lands, rather than those whose careers took them to France, Italy, or elsewhere abroad, and highlights the broad spectrum of subjects, portraiture, marine views, landscapes, biblical and mythological narratives, genre scenes, and the natural world—that fueled their creative imaginations.
Among the finest drawings in the exhibition are portraits and figure studies, including two by Rembrandt. “A Beggar, Facing Left, Leaning on a Stick” is Moore’s most recently acquired Rembrandt, and is also the earliest chronologically, dating to 1628–29. Rembrandt executed the sheet during his Leiden period (1625–31), when he was preoccupied with the theme of beggars. This figure, with his tall hat, ample cloak, and walking stick, was deftly sketched with an economical use of pen and ink. Adjusting the pressure on his pen and with it the width of each stroke—thin for the shading of the figure’s face, thick for the darkest side of his hat—Rembrandt worked quickly and confidently to capture the essence of the man, and masterfully suggested the fall of light through a combination of areas of blank paper, such as the hat, and rapid parallel hatching in his face, left leg, and the ground at the left to suggest volume and shadow. “Two Men in Polish Dress Conversing” demonstrates Rembrandt’s powers of observation. An endless variety of people lived in and traveled through the Dutch Republic during this period, and the artist diligently recorded the bustling activity of the world around him. The men represented here are identifiable as Ashkenazi or Eastern European Jews by their long beards and costumes. By the 1640s when Rembrandt created this drawing, he had come to black chalk; this work belongs to a group of some sixty small clusters of figures shown in everyday pursuits. Hendrick Goltzius was one of the most important Dutch artists of the transitional period between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. His rapidly drawn “Portrait of a Smiling Young Boy” reflects a departure from the artist’s early Mannerist style in favor of greater naturalism following a trip to Italy in 1590–91. His bold, animated pen work masterfully captures the sitter’s lively, smiling eyes. The awkwardly drawn hands may constitute an autobiographic allusion: Goltzius’s own fingers were badly burned and his hand permanently crippled during childhood. David Bailly is represented by three accomplished works, including his 1624 “The Lute Player”. This drawing is one of at least three copies that Bailly made after a celebrated painting by Frans Hals (now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris). Minor differences, such as the straggly strands of hair on the lute player’s forehead and the position of his little finger on the neck of his instrument, suggest that Bailly used as his model an early copy of the original, perhaps by Frans’s brother, Dirck Hals, or his pupil, Judith Leyster. The table, which puts the viewer at a low vantage point, was entirely Bailly’s invention. As well as the portraits, the exhibition contains sections featuring seascapes by Herman Saftleven and Willem van de Velde the Elder, landscapes by Jacob de Gheyn II, Allart van Everdingen and Aelbert Cuyp, genre scenes by Willem Pietersz. Buytewech, Isaac van Ostade and Cornelis Dusart, flora and fauna by Herman Henstenburgh and Pieter Holsteyn II and religious and mythical imagery by Abraham Bloemaert and Rembrandt among others.
Today, The Morgan Library & Museum is a complex of buildings of differing styles and periods covering half a city block. It began as an intimate palazzo-like structure designed by Charles Follen McKim to serve as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan. “Mr. Morgan’s library”, as it became known, was built between 1902 and 1906 to the east of his New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street. In the years since the Morgan’s incorporation as a public institution in 1924, there have been several additions to the original library building. As the collections grew, the Annex was added in 1928, on the site of Morgan’s home. In 1988, the mid-nineteenth-century brownstone on Madison Avenue and 37th Street, where J. P. Morgan, Jr., lived was also added to the complex. A garden court was built in 1991 to unite all three buildings in the complex. A century after the completion of the McKim building, The Morgan Library & Museum unveiled the largest expansion and renovation in its history. The Renzo Piano design integrates the three landmark buildings with three intimately scaled new pavilions constructed of steel-and-glass panels to create an accessible, inviting setting. Pierpont Morgan’s immense holdings ranged from Egyptian art to Renaissance paintings to Chinese porcelains. For his library, Morgan acquired illuminated, literary, and historical manuscripts, early printed books, and old master drawings and prints. To this core collection, he added the earliest evidence of writing as manifested in ancient seals, tablets, and papyrus fragments from Egypt and the Near East. Morgan also collected manuscripts and printed materials significant to American history. Over the years—through purchases and generous gifts—the Morgan has continued to actively acquire rare materials as well as important music manuscripts, a fine collection of early children’s books and manuscripts, and materials from the twentieth century (as well as earlier periods). Nevertheless the focus on the written word, the history of the book, and master drawings has been maintained. Visit the museum’s website at … http://www.themorgan.org