European Art 1600–1700

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European Art 1600–1700

A close continuation of European Art 1250–1600, the new permanent exhibition of the Old Master Paintings collection in the museum’s newly renovated wing in the City Park is home to Baroque art, spanning the century between 1600 and 1700. Together with this unit, visitors are now given a comprehensive picture of the trends and chief masters of five centuries of European art spanning from the early Gothic to the Baroque styles.

The selection of more than three hundred paintings displayed in eleven halls and sixteen cabinets showcases virtually every genre, school and style of the 17th century. Integrated into the displayed material is the museum’s Dutch collection, previously exhibited as a separate unit, enabling visitors to get a complete overview of the era and become familiar with new connections and contexts of art history.

The origin of the word Baroque is disputed even today: barocco might derive from the Portuguese word used to denote an irregularly shaped pearl. Initially, it had an extremely negative connotation and referred to everything that seemed irregular, bizarre or excessive from the perspective of Classicist art. Only in the late 19th century was Baroque art generally recognised as a separate style essentially distinct from Renaissance and Classicism.

The first quarter of the century was defined by masters trained in Mannerist art but advancing towards the Baroque style or programmatically breaking with Mannerism: Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio. The most radical turn was introduced into the history of painting by Caravaggio, trained in Lombardy and active in Rome, and although he had no students himself, he had numerous followers. His works also served as a source of inspiration for Flemish, Dutch, French and Spanish painters who went to Rome, elevating caravaggism into an international trend. Hall II of the exhibition displays works that reflect the influence of Caravaggio in various ways and to varying extents. The masterpieces in the adjacent hall present the golden age of Flemish painting, hallmarked by artist such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthonis van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens, while the paintings of Rembrandt’s colleagues and students, displayed in the next room, showcase the golden age of Dutch art.

Continuing their walk through the halls, visitors can explore the diversity of the High Baroque of Italian, French and German regions. The world-renowned Spanish collection of the museum is arranged in the central – and also largest – exhibition space in the row of halls, as well as in three cabinets. Exhibited here are Murillo’s huge altarpieces, works by Zurbarán, the representative of the style known as tenebrismo, the darling masterpiece of court portraiture, the likeness of Infanta Margarita Teresa, as well as depictions of the Virgin Mary, a theme hugely popular in Spanish painting.

Displayed in two large halls and six cabinets adjoined to them are remarkable works representing the main types of the newly emerged, autonomous genres of the 17th century: genre pictures, still-lifes and landscapes. The last hall focuses on the period’s Dutch and Flemish portrait painting, while the last two cabinets present the numerically smallest section of the Old Master Paintings collection, the 17th– and 18th-century art of British painting.

Similarly to the wing displaying exhibitions of earlier periods, the paintings in the Baroque wing are supplemented with sculptures and objects of decorative arts, introducing visitors to the art as well as the cultural background of the era. Wall captions and explanations next to the artworks facilitate a better understanding of the exhibition.


European Art 1600–1700

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