EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - The National Gallery of Scotland invites you to view some treasures from its collection and celebrate the ‘Dawn of the Golden Age’ of Dutch Art this autumn. Dutch Mannerism focuses on two major acquisitions made by the National Gallery of Scotland in recent years: Hendrick Goltzius’ extraordinary drawing of a Bust of a Man with a Tasselled Cap and Abraham Bloemaert’s splendid painting, Miracle of the Loaves. These masterpieces will be shown beside approximately 30 prints and drawing from the permanent collection including examples of by Goltzius’ contemporaries, Jacob Matham, Jan Saenredam, and Jacques de Gheyn.
The word ‘Mannerism’ derives from the Italian maniera and this style of art is usually associated with Italian painting, sculpture and architecture of the period between the High Renaissance and the Baroque. Dutch Mannerism, however, was the predominant style in the art of the Northern Netherlands from about the 1580s until the 1610s and developed from the NethverlandishNeverlandish tradition blended with Italian and German art. Paintings, drawings and prints of Dutch Mannerism are among the most sophisticated and celebrated works of Dutch Art and form the brilliant ‘Dawn of the Golden Age’.
The most important artist of Dutch Mannerism is Hendrick Goltzius. In 1587 he produced one of his most memorable drawings, the Bust of a Man with a Tasselled Cap. This large pen drawing is undoubtedly the most extraordinary addition of recent decades to Goltzius’s oeuvre. An unknown work until acquired in 2000 by the National Galleries of Scotland from the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch at Boughton House (Kettering, Northamptonshire), it probably came from an album bought by one of the Dukes of Montagu in the eighteenth century. The sheet is dominated by the fleshy head of a man with huge double chins, wearing a high cap with flaps and a tassel and shows Goltzius’s technical virtuosity and his power of imagination.
Goltzius along with fellow artists Van Mander and Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem (1562-1638) founded the ‘Haarlem Academy’. While we do not know how long it existed or how it worked the impact of the three artists on Dutch art cannot be overestimated. While Haarlem clearly was the centre of Dutch Mannerism, there was also a distinct Utrecht Mannerism style represented by Abraham Bloemaert and Joachim Wtewael (1566-1638). Bloemaert’s painting, The Miracle of the Loaves - where Christ is shown with the five loaves and two fishes which will feed the five thousand – is typical of mannerist painting as the main scene takes place in the middle distance, and is framed and partly obscured by monumental figures in the foreground. Bloemaert painted this work shortly after staying in Amsterdam in 1591-2 which had given him the opportunity to meet artists from Haarlem. It is the earliest surviving depiction he made of this rarely depicted subject.
Bloemaert was also a prolific draughtsman. Other treats on show include Venus Appeals to Cupid to Make Pluto Fall in Love with Proserpina which dates from the same period as the painting in the National Gallery of Scotland and Chariclea Crowning Theagenes which is a preparatory drawing for a painting of 1626. Both works show Bloemaert’s interest in unusual subjects from Antiquity and how he continued to use often returned to mannerist forms and compositions throughout his long career in many of his late drawings.
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