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Bosch to Bloemaert: Early Netherlandish Drawings from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

October 8, 2017 – January 7, 2018
West Building, Ground Floor, East Outer Tier Galleries

Hieronymus Bosch, The Owl’s Nest, c. 1505–1515, pen and brown ink, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (former Koenigs Collection)

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Founded in the 19th century, Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen possesses one of the world’s finest collections of 15th- and 16th-century Netherlandish drawings. Bosch to Bloemaert offers American audiences an exceptional opportunity to see a selection of 100 master drawings from this collection. The exhibition presents a beautiful and remarkably comprehensive overview of the period, encompassing nearly all media and types of drawings of the time.

Throughout the centuries covered here, drawings served a variety of functions. In the 15th-century workshop, meticulous studies after paintings recorded compositions and motifs for reuse in later works. Several drawings in the exhibition may have served this purpose, including a newly discovered sheet from the orbit of the great Jan van Eyck. A number of preliminary studies offer a glimpse into artistic practices in the 16th and early 17th centuries as well. The exhibition also traces major developments, including the emergence of landscape as a genre, and shifts in attitudes toward drawings, as collectors and artists began to regard them as autonomous works of art. Artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Hendrick Goltzius made independent drawings in a variety of media that were prized by collectors. Goltzius’s work also exemplifies the increasingly international character of Netherlandish art, as the artist absorbed the influence of the classical and Renaissance works he saw in Italy and adapted the sophisticated style his own countrymen brought home from the imperial court in Prague.

The exhibition is curated by Albert J. Elen, senior curator of drawings and prints, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, and Stacey Sell, associate curator, department of old master drawings, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Organization: The exhibition is organized by the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Attendance: 38,157

Catalog: Bosch to Bloemaert Early Netherlandish Drawings. By Yvette Bruijnen et al. Paris: Fondation Custodia, 2017.