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Drawings of 25 Dutch Masters in Two Exhibitions at Harvard Art Museums

Harvard Art Museums
Harvard Art Museums, Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, United States

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From May 21 until August 14, two exhibitions at Harvard Art Museum gather the drawings of 25 Dutch masters from the 16th to 19th century together in Cambridge, MA.  

Walk from 16 and 17th century Rembrandt's and van Goyen's at Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt, into the mysterious world of symbolism in Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870-1910, exploring works by van Gogh and Mondriaan. 

Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt

During this exhibition, works by outstanding draftsmen will be on view, including Dutch artists like Ferdinand Bol, Lambert Doomer, Jacques de Gheyn II, Hendrick Goltzius, Jan van Goyen, Rembrandt van Rijn, Aelbert Cuyp, and Cornelis Vroom. 

The first section, comprised of drawings from the 1500s, highlights the stylistic innovations precipitated by contact with Italian Renaissance models. A second group evokes the imagery propagated by a resurgent Catholic church in the southern Netherlands after the division of the Low Countries. A third group shows the range of subjects and techniques explored in the drawings of Rembrandt and the adaptation of his draftsmanship by some of his pupils and close followers.

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Three Studies of a Child and One of a Woman, c. 1638–40. Brown ink, brown wash, and white opaque watercolor. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Meta and Paul J. Sachs, 1949.4. Photo: Harvard Art Museums, © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

The emergence of landscape as an autonomous artistic genre is the focus of the fourth section. Dutch draftsmen of the 17th century also helped turn portraits and scenes from everyday life into autonomous artistic genres of remarkable variety and sophistication. Drawings in the final section range from poignant studies taken from life to complete compositions rife with humor and layers of meaning that would have delighted and challenged viewers of the period.

This exhibition corresponds to the publication of "Drawings from the Age of Bruegel, Rubens, and Rembrandt," which catalogues 100 of the most significant 16th- to 18th-century works from the Netherlandish, Dutch, and Flemish schools in the museums’ collections. 

Related Programming

May 24, 4:00 PM
Lecture: Drawings for Paintings: the Creative Process

June 7, 11:00 AM
Art Study Center Seminar:
Dutch and Flemish Drawings

GALLERY TALKS

June 16, 12:30 PM
with Miriam Stewart curator of the collection in the Division of European and American Art. 

June 21, 12:30 PM 
with Susan Anderson, curatorial research associate for Dutch and Flemish drawings.

July 7, 12:30 PM
with Susan Anderson, curatorial research associate for Dutch and Flemish drawings. 

July 12, 12:30 PM
with Casey Monahan, the Cunningham Curatorial Assistant for the Collection in the Division of European and American Art. 

August 4, 12:30 PM
with Miriam Stewart curator of the collection in the Division of European and American Art. 

August 11, 12:30
with Susan Anderson, curatorial research associate for Dutch and Flemish drawings.

More information on these free events? Click here.

Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870-1910

This exhibition explores symbolism, a late 19th century open-ended cultural phenomenon that formed an important bridge between impressionism and modernism. Symbolism sought to evoke ideas subjectively—through color, form, and composition—rather than objectively representing worldly appearances. 

Symbolist drawings were not united by a single technique or style, but by the artists’ shared desire to make the invisible visible. Often enigmatic, these graphic works served as signs of a deeper or higher degree of consciousness, beyond the literal objects that they depicted. Symbolism enabled artists to confront an increasingly uncertain and complex world, one that they alternately viewed in terms of degeneration and decadence, idealism and reform.

Vincent van Gogh, The Blue Cart, 1888. Graphite, black chalk, oil pastel(?), brown ink, watercolor, and gouache. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop, 1943.279. Photo: Harvard Art Museums, © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Featuring 40 drawings, this exhibition covers some of the major themes of symbolism, such as dreams and visions, spirituality, nature, and the relationship between society and the self. It offers an expansive view, including not only artists who identified themselves as symbolists but also influential precursors, as well as artists active at the end of the movement. Dutch artists included in the exhibition are Vincent van Gogh, Bart van der Leck, Piet Mondriaan and Jan Toorop. 

Related Programming

GALLERY TALKS

May 25, 1:30 PM 
with Edouard Kopp, the Maida and George Abrams Associate Curator of Drawings

May 26, 1:30 PM
with Edouard Kopp, the Maida and George Abrams Associate Curator of Drawings

June 7, 12:30 PM
with Casey Monahan, the Cunningham Curatorial Assistant for the Collection in the Division of European and American Art

June 28, 12:30 PM
with Edouard Kopp, the Maida and George Abrams Associate Curator of Drawings

July 19, 12:30 PM
with Edouard Kopp, the Maida and George Abrams Associate Curator of Drawings

July 28, 12:30 PM
with Edouard Kopp, the Maida and George Abrams Associate Curator of Drawings

For more information on these free events, click here.

About Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums—the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum—advance knowledge about and appreciation of art and art museums. The museums are committed to preserving, documenting, presenting, interpreting, and strengthening the collections and resources in their care. The Harvard Art Museums bring to light the intrinsic power of art and promote critical looking and thinking for students, faculty, and the public. Through research, teaching, professional training, and public education, the museums encourage close study of original works of art, enhance access to the collections, support the production of original scholarship, and foster university-wide collaboration across disciplines.

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