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Dutch delights at Louvre Abu Dhabi

Their new exhibition features the largest collection of 17th century Dutch Masters held in the region.

Staff at Louvre Abu Dhabi install the museum’s new acquisition, 'Rembrandt’s Head of a Young Man', at Louvre Abu Dhabi / Photo by Seeing Things – Ismail Noor

Louvre Abu Dhabi will present Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection and the Musée du Louvre, from 14 February through 18 May 2019. It constitutes the largest exhibition of Dutch Masters from the 17th century held in the Gulf region to date. This extraordinary assemblage of 95 paintings, drawings, and objects—including more than 20 works from across Rembrandt van Rijn’s career and by his workshop—surveys Rembrandt’s artistic journey in 17th-century Leiden and Amsterdam, as well as his relationships with rivals and peers including Jan Lievens, Ferdinand Bol, Carel Fabritius, Gerrit Dou, Frans van Mieris, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer.

Courtesy of Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi. Photo by Seeing Things, Mohamed Somji

Among the many highlights in the exhibition are two works by Vermeer—The Lacemaker (Musée du Louvre) and Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (The Leiden Collection)— that were painted on canvas cut from the same bolt. In the exhibition, these have been hung side by side for what is thought to be the first time in 300 years. Also of special note are: the first display at Louvre Abu Dhabi of the museum’s most recent acquisition, Rembrandt’s oil sketch Head of a Young Man, with Clasped Hands: Study of the Figure of Christ, ca. 1648-56; and the first-ever combined display of Rembrandt’s Bust of a Bearded Old Man (The Leiden Collection) with the special carrying case commissioned for it by a previous owner of the painting, Andrew W. Mellon, the eminent early 20th-century financier and philanthropist.

The museum has also acquired a rare oil sketch—Head of a young man, with clasped hands: Study of the figure of Christ, ca. 1648–56—by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), one of the most celebrated artists of the Dutch Golden Age. Painted on oak panel in the Dutch Republic (now the Netherlands) and identified as the Master’s work in the 1930s, it belongs to a series of oil sketches referred to as Rembrandt’s Face of Jesus group. Head of a young man was purchased by Louvre Abu Dhabi in December.

Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi. Photo by Seeing Things, Mohamed Somji

Dr. Souraya Noujaim, Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management Director, Louvre Abu Dhabi, explains: ‘We make each new addition to Louvre Abu Dhabi’s expanding collection with great rigor and care, in order to deepen and enhance the museum’s universal narrative. This exceptional work reflects the new cultural perspectives that emerged during the Dutch Golden Age due to international trade expansion and exchange of ideas. It also demonstrates the great Master’s understanding of the fragility and intense spirituality of life, which inspired so many artists after him’.

This masterpiece is the first work by Rembrandt known to have been acquired for a public collection in the Gulf region. The acquisition of this rare masterpiece follows the unveiling of 11 new additions to Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection in October 2018. In keeping with the museum’s mission to highlight cross-cultural connections in a variety of forms, last year’s acquisitions include a range of exquisite objects from around the world and the region, including a monumental Buddhist sculpture from China (11th-12th CE), four tapestries from French royal manufacturers depicting The Hunts of Maximilian, the Duke of Brabant, as well as a rare Ottoman horse armour (15th-16th CE).

The exhibition is organized by Louvre Abu Dhabi, The Leiden Collection, the Musée du Louvre and Agence France-Muséums.

The exhibition is drawn primarily from The Leiden Collection, one of the largest and most significant private collections of artworks from the Dutch Golden Age, interspersed with masterpieces from the Musée du Louvre’s exceptional Dutch collection. Loans from the Rijksmuseum and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France complete the presentation.

Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi. Photo by Seeing Things, Mohamed Somji

Highlights from The Leiden Collection include: Johannes Vermeer’s Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (ca. 1670-72); Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait with Shaded Eyes (1634); Gerrit Dou’s Scholar Interrupted at His Writing (ca. 1635); Jan Lievens’ Boy in a Cape and Turban (Portrait of Prince Rupert of the Palatinate) (ca. 1631); and Rembrandt’s Young Lion Resting (ca. 1638-42).

Among the highlights from the Musée du Louvre’s collections are: Johannes Vermeer’s The Lacemaker (1669-70); Gerrit Dou’s Self-Portrait with Palette in a Niche (ca. 1660-65); Ferdinand Bol’s Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well (ca. 1645-46), a gift from the family of Thomas S. Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan in 2017; and an engraved nautilus shell (ca. 1660-80).

The exhibition also features a very rare and beautifully crafted 17th-century ship model from the Rijksmuseum. It is the first time such an object has traveled to the United Arab Emirates.

 

 

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