Founded in the 19th century, Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen possesses one of the world’s finest collections of 15th- and 16th-century Netherlandish drawings. Bosch to Bloemaert offers American audiences an exceptional opportunity to see a selection of 100 master drawings from this collection. The exhibition presents a beautiful and remarkably comprehensive overview of the period, encompassing nearly all media and types of drawings of the time.
Throughout the centuries covered here, drawings served a variety of functions. In the 15th-century workshop, meticulous studies after paintings recorded compositions and motifs for reuse in later works. Several drawings in the exhibition may have served this purpose, including a newly discovered sheet from the orbit of the great Jan van Eyck. A number of preliminary studies offer a glimpse into artistic practices in the 16th and early 17th centuries as well. The exhibition also traces major developments, including the emergence of landscape as a genre, and shifts in attitudes toward drawings, as collectors and artists began to regard them as autonomous works of art. Artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Hendrick Goltzius made independent drawings in a variety of media that were prized by collectors. Goltzius’s work also exemplifies the increasingly international character of Netherlandish art, as the artist absorbed the influence of the classical and Renaissance works he saw in Italy and adapted the sophisticated style his own countrymen brought home from the imperial court in Prague.
The exhibition is curated by Albert J. Elen, senior curator of drawings and prints, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, and Stacey Sell, associate curator, department of old master drawings, National Gallery of Art, Washington.