CULTURE

In the spotlight: The Dutch Golden Age at Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi shines a light on the Dutch Golden Age with a showcase of more than 90 works from the 17th century including 16 remarkable paintings by renowned artist Rembrandt van Rijn

In the early 17th century, a young Dutch artist from Leiden took his first steps in the world of art, mastering the fundamentals of painting, drawing and etching under the mentorship of a skilled Italian painter. Little did he know he was crafting a legacy that would resonate across the creative realm decades and centuries later.

Carving his path from portraits of wealthy members of society, Rembrandt van Rijn gradually began to explore landscapes, animal studies, self-portraits, as well as allegorical, mythological and biblical themes through his works. And among his many remarkable pieces, one oil sketch, in particular, depicting a young Jesus Christ in prayer, stands out. This rare 17th-century painting – Head of a young man, with clasped hands: Study of the figure of Christ – now takes pride of place at Louvre Abu Dhabi. Displayed alongside 16 other remarkable paintings by the master himself, as well as 90 other works from the Dutch Golden Age, the acclaimed piece is part of the museum’s ongoing exhibition Rembrandt, Vermeer & the Dutch GoldenAge: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre running until May 18.

The 17th-century was a period of great wealth in Leiden and the wider Netherlands. Trade with the rest of the world blossomed this played a great role in the nation’s prosperity. It was against this backdrop of cultural exchange, exploration and discovery that the Dutch Republic entered its Golden Age.

Art and science also began receiving its fair share of attention, evident in the works produced by other Dutch artists fromRembrandt’s circle including Johannes Vermeer, Jan Lievens, Ferdinand Bol, Carel Fabritius, Gerrit Dou, Frans van Mieris and Frans Hals. Such was the success of these rare talents that their legacy continues to be celebrated even today and there couldn’t be a more fitting theme for Louvre Abu Dhabi’s first international exhibition for 2019.

Among the highlights are a series of paintings and drawings from Rembrandt’s career and workshop. It’s almost as though you’re being invited to embark on an inspiring journey through his exceptional creations, right from his early allegorical paintings of the senses, which demonstrate his youthful ingenuity and his experimentation with expressions, composition and colour during his Leiden days, to later works created in Amsterdam, including sensitively-rendered portraits, which include the Self-Portrait with Shaded Eyes and Minerva in Her Study, his monumental edition of the goddess Minerva.

In yet another milestone moment for Louvre Abu Dhabi, this exhibition will see two paintings produced by artist Johannes Vermeer hung beside one another for the first time in 300 years. Created on canvas and cut from the same bolt, the duo features The Lacemaker loaned from Musée du Louvre and Young Woman Seated at a Virginal from The Leiden Collection.

Completing the presentation of 95 exceptional artworks, including paintings, drawings and objects, are loans from the Rijksmuseum and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Visitors to the museum have until May 18 to witness this stunning collection of masterpieces from the finest Dutch storytellers. Rembrandt’s iconic oil sketch depicting Christ, however, will call Louvre Abu Dhabi its new home, joining the museum’s permanent collection of more than 650 pieces.

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