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Introduction to the Show: Clouds, Ice, and Bounty

A vast trading empire blossomed during the “Little Ice Age” of the 1600s, bringing great wealth to the Dutch Republic and neighboring Flanders. Betsy Wieseman, exhibition curator and head of the National Gallery’s department of northern European paintings, explores a few of the meticulously detailed landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, genre scenes, and portraits seen in Clouds, Ice, and Bounty: The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Collection of Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings. Clouds and ice abound in these wide-ranging works, but how much of the bounty did artists exaggerate to create a stronger impression of abundance? Learn how to untangle these subtly distorted realities.