11 Oct 2017, by LiesbethRhijnsburger
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The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) has announced that Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie have made a commitment to give their exceptional collections of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish art to the Museum—a donation that will constitute the largest gift of European paintings in MFA history. The Boston-area collectors plan to give the MFA not only their art collections, but also a major research library and funding to establish a Center for Netherlandish Art at the MFA, the first of its kind in the U.S. The donation of 113 works by 76 artists—including one of the finest Rembrandt portraits in private hands—will elevate the Museum’s holdings into one of the country’s foremost collections of Dutch art from the Golden Age and significantly strengthen its representation of Flemish paintings from the time. The Center for Netherlandish Art will encourage sharing works of art with wide audiences through collaborative study, generous loans and a commitment to mentoring the next generation of scholars, furthering the Museum’s mission to bring art and people together.
By integrating these two exceptional private collections—formed by the Van Otterloos and Weatherbies through decades of committed connoisseurship—with the MFA’s, the Museum will nearly double its holdings of Dutch and Flemish paintings. Beautifully conserved and of the highest quality, works from the promised gifts include all categories of Dutch painting for which the republic of the Netherlands was (and is) best known— portraits, genre scenes, landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, flower pictures, cityscapes and architectural paintings. Together, they afford insight into the 17th-century Dutch way of
life, whether it’s through a humorous genre scene by Jan Steen, a luxurious still life by Willem Kalf, a poetic landscape by Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael, an atmospheric marine by Willem van de Velde the Younger or a vibrant flower picture by Rachel Ruysch. Among the Flemish paintings are important oil sketches by Peter Paul Rubens, portraits by the influential Anthony van Dyck, works by pioneering still life painter Osias Beert, and landscapes by Jan Brueghel the Elder.
The Van Otterloo and Weatherbie gifts, together with the MFA’s collection, will serve as the foundation for all activities of the Center for Netherlandish Art. The Center, expected to launch in 2020, will be dedicated to preserving, studying and sharing art from the 17th- century Netherlands—countries known today as Holland and Belgium—in New England and around the world. The Center’s programming and exhibitions will be a magnet for curators and conservators; collectors and researchers; scholars and students— encouraging collaboration across disciplines. The shared work and openness to new perspectives will help keep the field of Netherlandish art meaningful and vibrant for future generations.
Leadership in teaching, mentorship and related scholarship—an area of emphasis in the Museum’s strategic plan, MFA 2020—will be a major focus of the Center. Through partnerships with a wide range of institutions, including universities and liberal arts colleges, the Museum will bring creative minds together and actively engage professors and students in the study of world-class objects. With the goal of creating a robust program of new exhibitions and installations, the Center will provide hands-on experience for aspiring curators. The MFA will also offer a sustained and generous program of loans in
order to share the collection widely with museums and educational institutions in the U.S. and abroad.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of Aaltje Uylenburgh, 1632 ~ Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection
Gerrit Dou, Dog at Rest, 1650 ~ Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection
Aelbert Cuyp, Orpheus Charming the Animals, about 1640 ~ Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection
Osias Beert, Still Life with Various Vessels on Trade, about 1610 ~ Susan and Matthew Weatherbie Collection
"We are extremely grateful to the Van Otterloos and Weatherbies for their deep commitment and for their support of the mission of the Museum in such a generous way,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director. “Rose-Marie, Eijk, Susan and Matt are path-breaking collectors and philanthropists. Together, their paintings, combined with those of the MFA, complement each other and enrich our understanding of Dutch and Flemish art. Truly, the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts. We are honored to display, preserve and care for these masterworks, share them with the world, and nurture generations of scholars in the years ahead.”
"Masterpieces of Dutch and Flemish Painting" is on view until January 15.