L’art hollandais au musée Condé

Dutch art at the Musée Condé
Chantilly, Musée Condé, from 15 September 2010 to 2 January 2011

1. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
The Serve is Being Forgiven
Pencil, brown ink - 14 x 20,6 cm
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : Didier Rykner

The Musée Condé is offering a closer look at its collection of Dutch paintings and drawings for its autumn show. While the latter were entirely catalogued nine years ago, the paintings had not all been published yet. This has now been completed by David Mandrella, who also signed the work on the drawings.
For the occasion, about 70 of the 84 sheets held at Chantilly are once more on display, affording us the chance to see, (at times again), works by Rembrandt (ill. 1), Jacob van Ruisdael and Adrian van Ostade (ill. 2). We cannot help but marvel at the taste demonstrated by the Duke of Aumale’s choices. Although the artists exhibited here reflect only one aspect of Dutch art, each drawing is of very high quality, especially in the case of the many seascapes.

2. Adriaen van Ostade (1610-1685)
Pesant’s Day
Pencil, brown ink, brown and blue wash - 25.8 x 32.8 cm
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : RMN/René-Gabriel Ojéda

3. Anthonis Moor, called Antonio Moro (1519-1576)
Christ Resurrected Surrounded by Saint Peter, Saint Paul
and Two Angels
, 1564
Oil on panel - 163 x 152 cm
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : RMN/ René-Gabriel Ojéda

However, the real surprise in visiting the exhibition will be found among the paintings, a limited selection of only sixteen. This is Christ Resurrected Surrounded by Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Two Angels by Antonio Moro (ill. 3), a painter known mostly for having portrayed members of the Spanish court but who produced very few religious paintings (only a Saint Sebastian in Munich and a Crucifixion belonging to the Prado but on deposit in Valladolid, are known). The work is not entirely unpublished as it had been rediscovered by Jacques Foucart who pointed it out in an entry in 1965 but its excellence had never been truly appreciated since then. Covered by a yellowed varnish, hanging high up over a piece of furniture in the Salon d’Orléans, visitors could not see its exceptional qualities correctly. Thanks to a restoration funded by Randstad, which includes seven other paintings, this Antonio Moro will no doubt rank among the artist’s finest masterpieces joining the other prestigious works held by the Musée Condé. In fact, the work was already famous in the 16th and 17th centuries, quoted by Vasari in his chapter on “various Flemish artists”. Indeed, Moro can be considered both Dutch and Flemish, at a time when the separation between these two states was not really clear as Flanders and Holland were both part of the Spanish Netherlands until the end of the 17th century. The artist lived most of his life in Utrecht, his home town, but died in Antwerp in 1574. The Chantilly painting reveals Flemish characteristics and it is possible that it, and other equivalent works, might have been noticed by Rubens since, notably Christ, and Saint Paul recall the figures painted by this master.

4. Mathias Stomer (c. 1600-after 1650)
Sarah Presenting Agar to Abraham
Oil on canvas - 150 x 204 cm
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : RMN/Franck Ryaux

5. Willem II van de Velde, called The Younger (c. 1633-1707)
Seascape, Calm Weather
Oil on canvas - 83 x 105 cm
Chantilly, Musée Condé
Photo : RMN/Thierry Le Mage

Another painting here remains relatively unknown although it was revealed in 1998 in a special-study exhibition presenting it for the first time to the public since the 19th century. This is Sarah Presenting Agar to Abraham (ill. 4) by Matthias Stomer, which the curator at the Musée Condé, Nicole Garnier, discovered in the attic at the horse stables, rejected by the Duke of Aumale himself after a failed attempt at relining the canvas.
Despite the reduced number of paintings then, the collection of Dutch art is far from negligible. A beautiful Jacob van Loo (Allegory of Wealth) hangs next to a Portrait of Thomas Cornwell by the same artist (but obviously less accomplished). However, as in the case of the drawings, the seascapes are remarkable, notably that of Willem II van de Velde, known as the Younger (ill. 5), one of his best paintings, absolutely admirable in its glacial perfection.

These exhibitions at the Musée Condé, each highlighting a specific aspect of the collections, are always extremely rewarding for the knowledge imparted. They continuously provide us with new discoveries and allow us to admire, at eye level, for only a few months, works which often hang high up, as specified by the Duke d’Aumale. The Antonio Moro painting alone calls for a visit.

David Mandrella and Nicole Garnier-Pelle, Peintures hollandaises du Musée Condé à Chantilly, Domaine de Chantilly and Institut Randstadt, 2010, 61 p., 12€. ISBN : 9782953260311

Visitor information : Musée Condé, 7 rue du Connétable, 60500 Chantilly. Tel : 03 44 27 31 80. Open every day except Tuesday from 10 to 18 (until 1st November), from 10:30 to 17:30 (after 1st November). Rates : 12 € (full price), free for children accompanied by an adult.

Internet website for the château de Chantilly

Didier Rykner, mercredi 6 octobre 2010

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