Bos­ton gets a Dutch treat of Golden Age mas­ter­pieces

Santa Fe New Mexican - - TRAVEL - By Wil­liam J. Kole

BOS­TON — Bos­ton’s art scene is get­ting a Dutch treat with a twist: a flurry of do­nated 17th-cen­tury mas­ter­pieces that ex­perts say will change the city’s mu­seum land­scape for decades to come.

First, col­lec­tors gifted the Mu­seum of Fine Arts with 113 lead­ing Golden Age mas­ter­pieces — in­clud­ing a prized Rem­brandt por­trait and works by Rubens and Brueghel — and es­tab­lished a new cen­ter ded­i­cated to the study of Dutch and Flem­ish art.

Now, the Har­vard Art Mu­se­ums have been be­queathed 330 draw­ings dat­ing to the 1600s.

Prac­ti­cally overnight, schol­ars say, the gifts have made Bos­ton a global cen­ter for the pe­riod.

“I can’t re­mem­ber a time when a city has been a ben­e­fi­ciary of such sig­nif­i­cant gifts in such a short time,” said Arthur Whee­lock Jr., a cu­ra­tor at the Na­tional Gallery of Art in Washington and a lead­ing ex­pert on Rem­brandt, Ver­meer and the other Dutch masters who left such an in­deli­ble mark on the art world.

Bos­ton-area col­lec­tors Rose-Marie and Eijk van Ot­ter­loo and Su­san and Matthew Weather­bie last month do­nated works by 76 artists to the Mu­seum of Fine Arts. The gift in­cluded fund­ing for a new re­search li­brary and a Cen­ter for Nether­lan­dish Art at the mu­seum, the first of its kind in the U.S.

It’s the largest gift of Euro­pean paint­ings in the mu­seum’s his­tory and will nearly dou­ble in size its col­lec­tion of Dutch and Flem­ish paint­ings.

The col­lec­tion in­cludes Rem­brandt’s 1632 por­trait of Aeltje Uylen­burgh, a cousin of Rem­brandt’s wife-tobe. Ex­perts say the work is in nearly per­fect con­di­tion. Other do­nated paint­ings in­clude land­scapes, seascapes, cityscapes and still lifes, some of which are in­cluded in Mas­ter­pieces of Dutch and Flem­ish Paint­ing, a new ex­hi­bi­tion that runs through Jan. 15 at the MFA.

Then, last week, the Har­vard Art Mu­se­ums were pledged a trove of draw­ings — in­clud­ing works on pa­per by Rem­brandt and his stu­dents — by Ge­orge Abrams, a Har­vard-ed­u­cated lawyer who has amassed a vast col­lec­tion and had do­nated 140 other sketches in past years. Se­lect pieces are on dis­play through mid-Jan­uary at Har­vard, where the gov­ern­ment of the Nether­lands knighted Abrams to rec­og­nize his con­tri­bu­tions to the art world.

Har­vard Art Mu­se­ums Di­rec­tor Martha Tedeschi called the most re­cent gift “truly trans­for­ma­tive,” say­ing it will help make Bos­ton “a ma­jor des­ti­na­tion for the study and pre­sen­ta­tion of Dutch, Flem­ish and Nether­lan­dish art.”

To­gether, the do­na­tions mean Bos­ton now boasts one of the largest U.S. col­lec­tions of Golden Age art. The Na­tional Gallery, New York’s Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art, the Philadel­phia Mu­seum of Art and the Detroit In­sti­tute of Arts also house con­sid­er­able Dutch and Flem­ish gal­leries. Four cen­turies on, the works still cap­ti­vate. “You find the world de­picted in such de­tail,” Whee­lock said. “Whether it’s Rem­brandt ex­plor­ing the mys­tery of the hu­man psy­che, or Ver­meer’s won­der­ful sense of grace and el­e­gance, they cap­ture all kinds of worlds.”

PRES­I­DENT AND FEL­LOWS OF HAR­VARD COL­LEGE VIA AP

The Rem­brandt draw­ing Four Stud­ies of Male Heads from the mid-1600s is among 330 17th-cen­tury draw­ings do­nated to the Har­vard Art Mu­se­ums by the Maida and Ge­orge Abrams Col­lec­tion.

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