Dutch Romantic paintings and African mats

Winter scene, by Schelfhout

From the Google cache of ModBlog.

Dutch Romantic paintings and African mats

Linking: 6

Date: 10/15/05 at 9:08PM

Today, on the reconstructed windmill of Rembrandt’s father, one starling. Singing.

In the art hall of Rotterdam today, two exhibitions.

A small one of African mats; and a big one of Dutch nineteenth century Romantic paintings.

The mats, losa, are made by women in Congo.

The big exhibition is called Masters of the Romantic Period. Dutch painting 1800-1850.

The organizers of the exhibition recognize that it is difficult to exactly define Romanticism, as there are many contradictions within it (naming German philosopher Hegel in this context).

For instance, they state there are both progressive and reactionary political views among supporters of Romantic arts.

Here one might say that this even sometimes happened within the life of the same individuals, like English Romantic poets Wordsworth (see also here) and Coleridge.

Another problem with defining Romanticism especially in painting is that it is not a style like, eg, impressionism is.

Rather, common ideas linked various Romantic painters.

Often, Romantics look at a period in the past as an “ideal” age.

Here, I’d like to point out that a difference between Romanticism in The Netherlands and in many other countries shows.

An influential Romantic author like Sir Walter Scott tended to see the Middle Ages as the “ïdeal” age of courage and chivalry.

While The Netherlands during the Middle Ages were not one political entity, and economically far less significant than Flanders just south of them.

So, Dutch nineteenth century Romanticists, both authors and painters, tended to not see the Middle Ages as a role model.

They prefered the seventeenth century, often described as the “Golden Age” for The Netherlands, politically, economically, and artistically.

While a German romantic would probably not feel that way on the seventeenth century in Germany; there, a time of devastating thirty years war, political Balkanization, etc.

In Dutch Romantic painting, one can see relationships to the seventeenth century in various ways.

One can see them in choice of subjects: seventeenth century political history; seventeenth century clothes of people depicted in paintings.

Also in choosing subjects similar to seventeenth century paintings: like people skating on frozen canals in winter; or arrangements of flowers.

Among the artists represented at the exhibition was Andreas Schelfhout, who often had skating or other aspects of winter as his subject.

Among the others: Johannes Bosboom, Johannes Tavenraat, and Barend Cornelis Koekkoek.

From the train back, between Voorschoten and Leiden, a buzzard flying over the meadow.

Wordsworth and Coleridge: here.

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