Adriaen van de Velde: Dutch Master of Landscape
12 October - 15 January
"A quiet revelation" - The Telegraph
"Varied, accomplished and sensitive" - Evening Standard
- Time Out
Nominee: The Global Fine Art Awards 2016
This was the first ever exhibition devoted to the Dutch painter and draughtsman Adriaen van de Velde (1636 - 1672), one of the finest landscape artists of the Dutch Golden Age. Through collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, over 60 paintings and exquisite preparatory drawings by this prolific, but tragically short-lived artist were brought to London.
A Dutch Italianate, Van de Velde represents a point of artistic cross-communication across borders, fusing agricultural landscapes in Holland with mythological Arcadian scenes in Italian settings. Compared by the renowned art historian Wolfgang Stechow (1896-1974) to Mozart's chamber music, Van de Velde's paintings are delicate, carefully composed and demonstrate his mastery of lighting effects as well as the human figure.
Van de Velde died at the early age of 35, and yet he produced a great number of masterpieces that earned him posthumous fame. As well as bringing together 60 works, the exhibition reunited these paintings with their preparatory studies in red chalk or pen and ink for the first time. The exhibition offered not only a survey of the artist’s oeuvre but also a rare glimpse of a seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painter at work, from conception to completion.
This exhibition was part of Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Rediscovering Old Masters: The Melosi Series, supported by a grant from the American Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery Inc., and made possible through the generosity of The Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation.
Six sides of Van de Velde
We bring you an alternative snapshot of the Dutch Master.
1. The Wunderkind
From a young age he would draw or paint on any surface he could find, even adorning his cupboard bed with a picture of a dairy farmer that was ‘treasured long afterwards’ according to his daughter.
2. The annoying little brother
Adriaen’s family were also established artists and as a child he would regularly steal his older brother Willem’s brushes and paints to explore his own creativity. While Willem the elder and Willem the younger were marine painters however, Adriaen forged his own path as a landscape painter.
3. The religious rebel
Born into a Protestant family, van de Velde married a Catholic woman and became a convert despite the high levels of persecution and prejudice that followed the Netherlands’ long and bloody war to gain independence from Catholic Spain. All five of his children were baptised in various clandestine churches around Amsterdam.
4. The bankrupt
Despite his success during his lifetime and the massive value placed on his work in the century after he died, van de Velde was plagued with money troubles his whole life. His wife ran a linen shop to help make ends meet but it wasn’t enough. When he died the sale of all his possessions and works didn’t even cover the debts.
5. The domestic
Adriaen himself never travelled beyond the borders of his native Netherlands but following his death in 1672, his father and brother travelled to London where they lived until their deaths, earning large salaries as painters for King Charles II (pre-Brexit of course).
6. The Mozart of painting
He died at the same age as Mozart at the tender age of 35, having produced a huge body of work. The art critic Wolfgang Stechow compared the musician with the painter, describing Van de Velde as displaying “Mozartian serenity, harmony and composure”.