Opening hours: All days except Mondays, from 12 to 6 p.m.
Ticket prices: Full-price 10 € / Reduced-rate 8 €
Guided tours (in French) of the C. W. Eckersberg exhibition are organized at the following dates :
Saturday 11 June at 12.30 – Thursday 16 June at 12.00 – Saturday 25 June at 12.00 – Friday 1 July at 12.00 – Saturday 9 July at 12.00.
Admission: price of the exhibition ticket
Reservation required: firstname.lastname@example.org
View through three Arches of the Colosseum in Rome, 1815
Oil on canvas, 32 x 49.5 cm
© Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
C. W. Eckersberg (1783-1853)
Danish artist in Paris, Rome and Copenhagen
From 1 June to 14 August 2016
For the first time, France is hosting a monographic exhibition of Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, a major Danish artist of the 19th century. 125 works are being revealed, including paintings that have not been shown in public for over 100 years.
On view during Autumn 2015 at the Copenhagen Statens Museum for Kunst and subsequently at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the exhibition at the Fondation Custodia is arranged in several stages. On the first floor of the Hôtel Lévis-Mirepoix, the paintings are presented in chronological and thematic order: the early years in Denmark, in France and Italy, before the development of his art in Copenhagen. In the basement, the visitor will find drawings and sketches by the artist, including twelve sheets from the collections of the Fondation Custodia.
The years in Paris and Rome
A leader of the Copenhagen School, the young Eckersberg won a prize that allowed him to study in France between 1810 and 1813. The year he spent in the studio of Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) was crucial for his time in Paris. This artist’s teaching relied exclusively on study of the live model and was an innovation for Eckersberg. The historical scenes of the artist’s early works changed character immediately under the influence of the French master.
Pont Royal seen from the Quai Voltaire, 1812
Oil on canvas, 55.5 x 71 cm
© Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
The Marble Steps Leading to the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome, 1814-1816
Oil on canvas, 32.5 x 36.5 cm
© Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
The Nathanson Family, 1818
Oil on canvas, 126 x 172.5 cm
© Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
Sailing from Copenhagen to Charlottenlund, 1824
Oil on canvas, 44.5 x 45 cm
© Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
The Fondation Custodia exhibition includes several drawings and paintings from this period. While Eckersberg’s ambition was to devote himself to history painting, a much more prestigious genre at the time, he also began to create works in another style. These included landscapes made during the promenades that brought him around the Île-de-France and urban views of Paris such as the Pont Royal seen from the Quai Voltaire (1812). In this painting, the artist, in the role of a simple observer, has set out to render the slightest details with great precision.
Eckersberg left France for Italy in June 1813 and settled in Rome, moving into the house where Thorvaldsen also lived, and they became close friends. In this burgeoning, international artistic environment, Eckersberg concentrated on plein air painting that allowed him to capture the vagaries of shadows and light and to render them in the instant, using innovative points of view and compositions.
Eckersberg became fascinated by this plein air painting, creating several views of the Eternal City. In the room devoted to Italy, visitors can admire major works from this period, like The Marble Steps Leading to the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome (1814-1816) or View through Three Arches of the Colosseum in Rome (1814-1816), probably Eckersberg’s most famous work.
The Return to Copenhagen
After his time in France and Italy, Eckersberg returned to Copenhagen in 1816 where he remained until his death. He became professor and then director of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and spent the rest of his life painting and teaching. He introduced plein air painting to his students, considering landscape to be a subject worthy of study and illustration.
The drawings and paintings made from 1830 on evoking daily life in Denmark and Eckersberg’s many portraits of the Danish bourgeoisie show his interest in habits and manners, as well as secular scenes. When he returned to Copenhagen he made portraits of several of the generous patrons who had allowed him to study abroad. In these works, the French influence can be seen – especially that of David – in the arrangement of the models, which is impressive but simple, the rigorous composition, clear details and the rendering of the texture and quality of fabric.
After the portraits, the exhibition offers visitors a glimpse of the intimacy of nude studies, innovative for their realistic character. Over the summer of 1837, Eckersberg made five paintings showing nude models almost in life size. For these paintings that would serve as examples for his pupils, he chose his models carefully, who were complementary for their age, physical type and expression, either concentrated or distant.
This journey through Eckersberg’s work ends with paintings and drawings illustrating marine scenes. For some of these, Eckersberg adopted artistic processes that were at the time experimental, such as the unusual round format he chose for Sailing from Copenhagen to Charlottenlund (1824).
In the second section of the exhibition, Eckersberg’s drawings echo his varied interest in everyday scenes, landscapes and seascapes. As a meticulous draughtsman, he often made an initial study in situ, adopting a rigorous composition. However, he usually finished his drawings in the calm of the studio.
A catalogue in French accompanies this exhibition. It includes texts by Kasper Monrad, Anna Schram Vejlby, Neela Struck, Jesper Svenningsen and Jan Gorm Madsen.
C. W. Eckersberg (1783-1853). Artiste danois à Paris, Rome et Copenhague
Paris, Fondation Custodia, 2016
336 pp, colour ill., 31 x 23 cm, hardback
Price : 40 € [ORDER]
Support for the exhibition comes from:
En route !
Dutch Landscape Drawings
John and Marine van Vlissingen Collection
30 January – 30 April 2016
The Fondation Custodia is staging an exhibition of the impressive collection of old master drawings owned by John Fentener van Vlissingen and his wife Marine, Comtesse de Pourtalès. This exhibition, which ran at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam during the summer of 2015, features 100 drawings with ‘travelling’ as the theme – from sheets by seventeenth-century artists such as Rembrandt and Jacob van Ruisdael to nineteenth-century works by the generation that included Josephus August Knip (1777-1847).
Rembrandt van Rijn, Rampart near the Saint Anthony’s Gate, Amsterdam, c. 1648 – 1652.
John and Marine van Vlissingen Art Foundation
Over a period of fifty years John and Marine van Vlissingen have meticulously compiled a collection of landscape drawings by Dutch and Flemish artists who depicted nature, not only in the Netherlands but also in France, Italy, England and Africa.
Dutch artists have always been known as enthusiastic travellers. During the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they travelled the world on horseback, by stagecoach, by barge and on foot. In their drawings they captured the great diversity of landscapes they passed through. For the artists who did not have the opportunity, the courage or the wherewithal to undertake such trips, the work of those artists who did travel was extremely valuable. For the first time in art history the landscape was not regarded as a background for biblical and mythological scenes, but as a subject in its own right.
Rembrandt (1606-1669) probably never left the Netherlands, but he often drew nature, chiefly around Amsterdam. The sheet in the exhibition in the Fondation Custodia, Rampart near the Anthony’s Gate, Amsterdam, is one of a splendid series of landscapes he made between 1648 and 1652, which for a long time were in the Duke of Devonshire’s collection at Chatsworth. As in many works from the same period, Rembrandt depicted the landscape in a flawlessly simple manner, using only a reed pen, brown ink and a brown wash, a technique that lends the work rare clarity and extraordinary balance.
This drawing hangs in the same room in the Fondation Custodia as View of the Hogesluis beside the Amstel, Amsterdam by Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29-1682). It is a magnificent example of the artist’s refined style. Three other sheets from his Amstel series have survived; two in the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the third in the Kunsthalle in Bremen. With the low horizon and impressive clouds, the drawing makes a powerful impression. The lift bridge, the bridge in the distance and the five windmills are typical of the Dutch landscape, but finding a concentration like this in one composition is exceptional.
Like many of his compatriots from the Southern Netherlands, Lodewijk Toeput – called Pozzoserrato (1550-1603/5) – left Flanders to travel to Italy and escape the Spanish occupation. He arrived in Venice around 1573 and set himself up in Treviso, where he remained for the rest of his life. Pozzoserrato made the Panoramic Landscape soon after his arrival there. It was probably intended for a set of illustrations of the months of the year or the four seasons. The subject, technique and style bear a strong resemblance to the larger drawing of the Allegory of Winter, now in the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven.
Hendrick Avercamp’s watercolour of boats on a calm sea might have been designed to reflect the title of this exhibition – En route! Avercamp was highly adept at creating a strong effect with minimal resources.
The church interior by Pieter Saenredam (1597-1665) is a very recent addition to the Van Vlissingen Collection. It was acquired with the Atlas Munnicks van Cleeff, which contains primarily topographical scenes in the city and province of Utrecht.
Willem Schellinks’s panoramic drawing of a view of Valetta (Malta) with annotations in the artist’s handwriting was also acquired only recently from the I.Q. van Regteren Altena Collection.
Hermanus Numan (1744-1820) was one of the leading Dutch watercolourists of the eighteenth century. He painted many country estates and parks, and in the 1780s made this subject his speciality. The two watercolours in the exhibition – of an orangery in a park with a pond - are very sophisticated examples of his talent. These sheets are part of a larger series, as we know from a third watercolour, now in the Albertina in Vienna. With identical dimensions, it is a frontal view of the same orangery. A fourth view came to light recently: a drawn preliminary study the artist made in the open air. The drawing and the watercolours are displayed together in the exhibition.
In Landscape near Galloro with a Fountain by Josephus Augustus Knip (1777-1847) we see Italy again. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, foreign artists living in Rome moved out of the city during the summer months, attracted by the peace and quiet of the Roman countryside with its picturesque hills and shady forests. Knip made a large number of studies from nature that attest to his talent as a watercolourist. Here he drew the path that led to the shrine of Santa Maria di Galloro, near Lake Albano and Lake Nemi to the southeast of Rome. Unlike most of Knip’s landscapes and panoramas, which he occasionally executed on mounted sheets of paper, parts of which he left unfinished, Landscape near Galloro was fully worked up in watercolour.
Like an echo of Paysages de France, an exhibition staged by the Fondation Custodia in 2006, the current exhibition also includes Dutch drawings made in France in the seventeenth century. One of them, attributed to Jan Wils or his son Joan, is Houses on a Cliff below the Castle of Francheville, near Lyon. France is also represented with View of the District of Vertais in Nantes by Lambert Doomer (1624-1700) and the impressive View of Cambrai, by Adam Frans van der Meulen, a specialist in topographical drawings who died in Paris in 1690.
A catalogue in English was published for the exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in 2015 and is available at the Fondation Custodia :
Home and Abroad. Dutch and Flemish Landscape Drawings from the John and Marine van Vlissingen Art Foundation
BCD Group, Rijksmuseum, 2015 [39,95 Euro] ORDER
273 pp, 30,5 x 24,5 cm, ca. 100 pl., hardback
Capturer la lumière
Works on paper by Jozef Van Ruyssevelt
30 January – 30 April 2016
Running concurrently with the Van Vlissingen Collection exhibition is a show of works on paper by the Flemish painter and etcher Jozef Van Ruyssevelt downstairs in the Hôtel Lévis-Mirepoix.
Jozef Van Ruyssevelt, View in the studio, 1979.
The Fondation Custodia acquired works from his estate that include twelve etchings, a sketchbook and a set of gouaches. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam owns a virtually complete collection of Van Ruyssevelt’s graphic oeuvre; the Fondation has worked with the Rijksmuseum’s Print Room (the Rijksprentenkabinet) to stage the exhibition.
Jozef Van Ruyssevelt (1941-1985) was trained at the Royal Academy and the Higher Institute in Antwerp. For the last fourteen years of his life he taught etching at the academy. Van Ruyssevelt was an Intimist, who wanted to capture light, colour and space and found subjects enough in his own house and garden. In particular he pictured the rooms of his last house in Stationsstraat in Essen, near Antwerp, again and again. Every few days in his best and most productive years – around 1980 – he made a painting, gouache, pastel drawing or etching of the interior or a detail of it.
The exhibition focuses on Van Ruyssevelt’s etchings. Often dramatic prints of undramatic subjects, they include views, interiors with chairs and cupboards, still lifes with bottles and pot plants. In the last state of the etching Studio View (1979) a little light entering from outside is faintly reflected in a painted cupboard. Hatching creates a sense of twilight in the room. You squint to look beyond those etching lines, but they get closer and closer together; it becomes ever darker towards the corners. The shadows under the cupboard and in the fireplace are velvety black voids. Quicksand for the peering eye.
Sometimes, amidst all that black, something suddenly shines white, as white as the paper on which the etching is printed. The glass table top in Glass on Glass (1980), for example. In the shadow in front of this patch of light stands a fruit bowl with three pieces of fruit, and on the fruit in the centre there is a leaf silhouetted pitch-black against the white. There is always something bearing down heavily against the light.
Viewed close up, the black leaf has no fixed outlines: it seems to be a shape cut from fabric that has started to fray at the edges. And what is it attached to – a small gourd? A mandarin? Van Ruyssevelt’s graphic art is all suggestion. You recognize a still life or an interior in general terms, but the details remain undefined. As densely as he hatched it, he still left everything open.
An oeuvre catalogue of Van Ruyssevelt’s prints, with illustrations and detailed descriptions of all two hundred etchings and related work in other techniques, accompanies the exhibition. This catalogue is published in Dutch and French.
The exhibition differs somewhat from the book. A selection of his graphic oeuvre is surrounded by much work in colour – gouaches, pastel drawings and a few oil paintings. For the intimate world Van Ruyssevelt captured in his etchings was in reality brightly coloured, and he was highly sensitive to those intense, glowing tones. The combination with the work in colour enriches the perception of the work in black and white and reveals how the etcher transformed all these shades and nuances of colour into chiaroscuro contrasts.
Jozef Van Ruyssevelt. L’oeuvre graphique
By Gijsbert van der Wal
Paris, Fondation Custodia and Varik, De Weideblik, 2016 [35,00 Euro] ORDER
212 pp, 30 x 24 cm, ca. 220 pl., hardback
Jozef Van Ruyssevelt. Het grafische werk
By Gijsbert van der Wal
Paris, Fondation Custodia and Varik, De Weideblik, 2016 [35,00 Euro] ORDER
212 pp, 30 x 24 cm, ca. 220 pl., hardcover
Raphael, Titian, Michelangelo
Italian Drawings from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt (1430-1600)
21 March – 21 June 2015
The Fondation Custodia is delighted to present in Paris a selection of drawings by Italian Renaissance masters from the exceptional collection of the Städel Museum, Frankfurt. During three months this spring, the public will have the opportunity to admire almost 90 masterpieces from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by Raphael, Titian, Michelangelo, Correggio and many others, that will be on display in the exhibition rooms of the Hôtel Lévis-Mirepoix at 121 rue de Lille in Paris.
Pontormo, Study of Two Male Figures Looking into a Mirror, c. 1520
Black chalk (?), white chalk, on blue paper, 422 x 272 mm
© Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
One of the missions of the Fondation Custodia is to bring the very best of the art of drawing to the French public. The little-known collection of the Städel Museum is amongst these treasures that it wishes to share, and contains many magnificent surprises. Following in-depth analysis of the Italian drawings in a recent research project, original interpretations as well as new attributions await the public’s discovery in the exhibition catalogue written by Joachim Jacoby.
The core of the collection is formed by the bequest of Johann Friedrich Städel, a banker and great art collector. His will, drawn up in 1815, resulted in the creation of Germany’s oldest museum foundation, the Städel Museum. The group of Italian Renaissance drawings was enriched in the mid-nineteenth century by art historian Johann David Passavant, and today forms a collection of the first order that illustrates the different artistic movements of that epoch. Before coming to Paris, this exhibition was presented at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.
The exhibition will confront visitors with a wide and representative selection of drawings from between 1430 and 1600, some of which are rarely or have never been unveiled to the public.
The show starts with a number of remarkable fifteenth-century drawings: four elegant Gothic standing figures from the circle of Pisanello (c. 1430), a silverpoint study of a live model for a Crucifixion (c. 1450), a Venetian drawing of a young man looking upwards (c. 1500), as well as the exceptional mourning scene by Marco Zoppo (c. 1470).
Between 1500 and 1525, Italian art took a completely new direction. This period was dominated by the artists Fra Bartolommeo and Michelangelo in Florence, Raphael in Rome, Correggio in Parma, and Titian in Venice, all represented in the exhibition. This generation of artists working in the early years of the Cinquecento produced pioneering works that would have a fundamental influence on their contemporaries and generations to come. Alongside Michelangelo’s Grotesque Heads (c. 1525), visitors can admire three drawings by Raphael including his Study of a Rider that was used for producing a fresco in 1511/12 for the Room of Heliodorus in the Vatican Palace, Correggio’s Seated Prophet with a Book (c. 1523), and Titian’s unique Study of St Sebastian for the High Altarpiece in SS Nazaro e Celso in Brescia (c. 1519/20).
The exhibition will also allow visitors to contemplate works from the second half of the sixteenth century from central and northern Italy, covering a wide geographical zone extending from Genoa to Venice.
The drawings from central Italy, especially Florence and Rome, include works devoted to the demonstration of power and the refinement of court life. Among these are drawings by Pontormo, Vasari, Zuccari, Poccetti and Primatice, as well as Bronzino’s sketch for a ceiling fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (c. 1539/40).
Meanwhile, the selection from northern Italy will delight visitors with its striking drawings: Venus Mourning the Death of Adonis (c. 1560) by Luca Cambiaso of Genoa, The Adoration of the Magi (c. 1527/30), the Portrait of a Man by the highly influential Parmigianino, as well as the Study of the Head of Michelangelo’s “Giulano de ‘Medici” (c.1545/60?) executed by Tintoretto, presumably after a cast of the well-known sculpture in the Medici Chapel in Florence.
The works on display comprise preparatory drawings for frescoes and paintings, studies en plein air, landscapes, as well as portraits and finished drawings, independent artworks such as the black-pen depiction of Narcissus by Giuseppe Cesari, also known as Cavaliere d’Arpino (c. 1595/1600).
The diversity and the quality of the works in the exhibition Raphael, Titian, Michelangelo. Italian Drawings from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt (1430-1600), provide an opportunity to contemplate all the functions and techniques of drawing in the Renaissance, a period in which this medium enjoyed an unprecedented heyday.
Joachim Jacoby, Raffael bis Tizian. Italienische Zeichnungen aus dem Städel Museum
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg, 2014
303 pp, 23 x 28 cm, ca. 200 pl., paperback with flysheets
Price : 34,90 €
Exhibition by the Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main.
Its presentation in Paris is made possible thanks to the generous support
of the Wolfgang Ratjen Stiftung.
Works on paper by Gèr Boosten
21 March – 21 June 2015
In parallel with the Städel exhibition, a display of works on paper by the painter, draughtsman and printmaker Gèr Boosten opens on 21 March in the basement of the Hôtel Lévis-Mirepoix. Boosten was born in Maastricht in 1947, and lived there until 1996, when he and his family settled in France. For the last ten years he has lived and worked in a converted hangar in the village of Poilly-lez-Gien, 140 kilometres to the south of Paris. Boosten is a Dutch-born artist with, as he says himself, a French spirit, so an exhibition of his drawings in the Paris house of a Dutch drawing collection seems entirely appropriate.
Gèr Boosten, Tango, 06/01/2014
Indian ink, 50 x 65 cm
In staging shows like this, the Fondation Custodia turns the spotlight on contemporary artists who know their Classics. They are not nostalgic, but they do have an understanding of the history of drawing. They are artists who have no desire to break with tradition, but seek to continue it; artists for whom the work of the draughtsmen of the Renaissance, the Golden Age and Modernism is still a source of inspiration today. In the recent past the Rue de Lille has hosted, among others, Peter Vos’s Metamorphosis drawings, and, earlier this year, the works on paper by painter and sculptor Arie Schippers.
For Gèr Boosten, the tradition in which he draws goes much further back than the Renaissance. He feels a kinship with prehistoric cave artists. ‘Not that I want to copy them, make prehistoric drawings myself. But in those wall drawings you see for the first time a monumentality, an artistic spiritual force, conveyed in such a way that we are still astounded by it in the twenty-first century. In my own drawings I want to build a magnetic field, too, a tension between the black and the white. An open structure, comparable to the structure of the stars in the night sky. When I go outside in the evening and stand on the plateau near my house and look up at the stars, I understand very clearly what prehistoric man felt. They tried to take what they saw up above and place it down here. Stones with a hole in them have been found in France: this was the lens they looked through. In fact this hole is the rectangle of a drawing. The frame. Two hundred and fifty thousand years ago we were already looking for a frame, and we are still exploring our place in the universe within frameworks like this. I believe that every drawing should be a reflection of the universe.’
Boosten sets the bar high. And not just formally, with that tension between black and white, but with the subjects of his drawings. As a toddler in his father’s studio he was already drawing what he imagined when he heard news reports about the disastrous floods in Zeeland and the Korean War. Around 1970 he was an exchange student in Yugoslavia, where he hung around with gypsies, alcoholics and prostitutes. ‘Looking back, I can see that that time in Belgrade was the basis of the whole of the rest of my life. It was a harsh world, and I’ve captured that in my work: the mess, the mud, the poverty, the sharp definition. It lay there for the taking and I thought it was fantastic. Life and death were very close.’
On his return to the Netherlands Boosten graduated with drawings and paintings of crowds of ordinary people, crammed together in buses and trams or smoking and drinking at large tables. He drew people pushing and shoving, mini rebellions and murders. The setting is often stage-like: the figures stand and lie on the wooden planks of a shed floor or on a piece of flat land stretching in perspective to a high horizon. Beds, tables and stoves look like pieces of scenery, curtains and washing lines like stage wings.
After taking his finals at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, Boosten stayed on and took a course in set design. His teacher, the painter, printmaker and set designer Nicolaas Wijnberg (1918-2006), soon became a good friend. In the nineteen-seventies Boosten designed sets for the Groot Limburgs Toneel and the Amsterdam theatre group Globe. His sets for Hugo Claus’s plays Suiker (Sugar) and Een bruid in de morgen (A Bride in the Morning) have a great deal in common with his ‘Yugoslavian’ etchings and drawings.
Ger Luijten of the Fondation Custodia came across Gèr Boosten’s work a decade or so ago, when he was the keeper of the Rijksprentenkabinet in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The first etchings and drawings by Boosten came into the collection there as part of the Nicolaas Wijnberg bequest. More works were added to the group later in consultation with Boosten.
Last year Boosten gave a series of etchings to the Fondation Custodia. The exhibition at the Fondation includes some of these etchings and other early prints, a selection from Boosten’s sketchbooks and a series of large pen and ink drawings he made recently. In these new drawings, men and women are struck by flying chairs and shoes or by stones from space. They are attacked by dogs and wolves or by one another. People are injured, people are killed. Boosten’s work is as theatrical as ever and still deals with la condition humaine.
‘It is very existential,’ he says himself. ‘It is to do with the plays of Beckett and Ionesco, and Pasolini’s films. My work is not an indictment, absolutely not. I don’t make these etchings to say just look at what a mess it all is. No, it’s a kind of serenity, it’s behold mankind. Ecce homo. We could all end up in the gutter. You only have to go through a divorce. First you lose your house, then you sleep in your car, and the next thing you know you’re in the gutter. It’s only too possible. I can put myself in the position of people who commit a crime or are supposedly mad. I don’t think I can do anything about the evils in the world, my reach is too short, but I’m an artist and I can do something with that. Like Pasolini or Lars van Trier, like Rembrandt, Grünewald and De Gheyn.’
Gijsbert van der Wal
Gijsbert van der Wal, Cirque d’encres. L’œuvre sur papier de Gèr Boosten / Inktcircus. Werk op papier van Gèr Boosten
Fondation Custodia, Paris – De Weideblik, Varik, 2015
152 pp, 27 x 27 cm, ca. 128 pl., hardback
Prijs: € 25,00 (ORDER HERE)
The Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht and DSM in Heerlen are showing Boosten’s recent paintings from 3 April to 7 June.
Gèr Boosten - Entre chien et loup
Goltzius to Van Gogh. Drawings & Paintings from the P. and N. de Boer Foundation
13 December 2014 – 8 March 2015
Piet de Boer (1894-1974) originally studied biology, but abandoned it because art history appealed to him more. In 1922 he started an art gallery, Kunsthandel P. de Boer. He moved to premises on Herengracht in Amsterdam in 1927, and the gallery is now run by his nephew, Peter, and Peter’s son Niels. From the outset he had branches in various German cities —typical of the entrepreneurship of the firm, in which Piet’s younger brother Dolf also worked. In 1928 the gallery staged an exhibition about the Brueghel family and their influence on art in the Netherlands. More pioneering presentations like this were to follow, among them an exhibition on Joos de Momper and the flower still life, always accompanied by catalogues written by Piet de Boer, who built up an impressive library and an exhaustive collection of artists’ documentation. These exhibitions had art-historical relevance and contributed to a broadening of the taste for sixteenth- and seventeenth-century art among collectors and in museums. The gallery also dealt in drawings. In the 1930s, Piet de Boer’s engagement with modern art saw Kunsthandel P. de Boer mounting selling exhibitions of work by contemporary artists, including Pyke Koch, Carel Willink and Hildo Krop.
Vincent van Gogh, Wheatfield, June 1888
Oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm
© P. en N. de Boer Foundation, Amsterdam
After the Second World War the firm continued to prosper and became an important presence in the market. Around 1960, after the death of his wife Nellie, Piet withdrew from the business and concentrated on studying and expanding his private collection of paintings and drawings, covering everything from late medieval art to an ensemble of work by Vincent van Gogh. In 1964 he decided to transfer the collection to the P. & N. de Boer Foundation. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of this little-known foundation, the Fondation Custodia has taken the initiative to show a broad selection from the collection in Paris, where the taste of the dealer and collector Piet de Boer — a contemporary of Frits Lugt (1884-1970) — and his extraordinary feeling for quality will be seen at its best. It is a selection from the harvest of more than forty years in the art market.
Twenty paintings will be on show, including a number of works by Mannerist artists like Hendrick Goltzius (Portrait of Jan Govertsz van der Aar as a Collector of Shells and Vanitas Still Life), Cornelis Cornelisz Van Haarlem (Neptune and Amphitrite), Cornelis Ketel (a portrait painted ‘with his fingers, without a brush’) and Joachim Wtewael (Mars, Venus and Cupid). There will also be still lifes by Balthasar van der Ast, Ambrosius Bosschaert, Gottfried von Wedig and Frans Snijders, atmospheric landscapes by Joos de Momper, Roelandt Savery and Hendrick Avercamp and Arent Arentsz Cabel, a pastose Open Air Party by Esaias van de Velde and a charming close-up of a Rose, Mouse and Insects, attributed to Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Among the ninety-five drawings there is a dazzlingly executed Adoration of the Magi by the Master of the Liechtenstein Adoration on red prepared paper, Hendrick Goltzius’s intimate Touch and five superior drawings by Jacques de Gheyn, among them the perfectly preserved Heraclitus and Democritus shown crying and laughing at the world, and the 1599 depiction of a bloody Flayed Head of a Calf on a table. Less confrontational, but likewise full of references to mortality, is Jacob Hoefnagel’s Vase of Flowers Surrounded by Fruit and Insects dated 1629. From the late 1630s there is Rembrandt’s sketchy composition study of Joseph Lifted from the Well by his Brothers, a drawing that the P. & N. de Boer Foundation returned to the heirs of a Czech family from whom it was looted by the Nazis. It is now in a private collection, but will be on display in the exhibition. Drawings from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have been selected from a total of around four hundred sheets. They include rare work by numerous artists, and drawings that have so far not been published, or only very cursorily. Piet de Boer loved landscapes, from the panoramic and visionary to the intimate, and superb examples can be seen here, including works from the eighteenth century by artists like Paulus Constantijn la Fargue and Jacob Cats.
A special room will be devoted to work by Vincent van Gogh: five drawings, among them the iconic Worn Out, represented by a figure in great despair and a large sheet of a Peasant Digging, created out of compassion for the lot of the poor farm labourer. There is also Moulin de Blute-fin, a coloured drawing from Van Gogh’s time in Paris. Among the paintings is the striking Wheatfield, rendered with splashes of colour in Arles in June 1888. Unlike many other dealers in old art, Piet de Boer had an affinity with contemporary art and showed great interest in classical modern artists. He considered Van Gogh to be the most important among them and succeeded in bringing together this interesting group of his works.
A book will be published to accompany the exhibition. It will contain contributions by a number of specialists who will shed light on the exhibited works, a great many of which have not, or only sporadically, featured in the art-historical literature. All the works on show will be reproduced in colour, with comparative illustrations. The history of the P. de Boer gallery and the P. & N. de Boer Foundation will be described in the introduction.
Some of the paintings and drawings have featured in exhibitions in the past, but the works have never been shown in context since an exhibition in the Singer Museum in Laren in 1966. Making the selection was a true delight, although not exactly easy because of the ‘embarras du choix’. The exhibition will be a feast of recognition and pleasant surprises.
Goltzius to Van Gogh. Drawings and Paintings from the P. & N. de Boer Foundation
Fondation Custodia, Paris – THOTH Publishers, Bussum, 2014
277 pp, 24 x 30 cm, ca. 235 pl., hardback
ISBN 978 90 6868 668 5
Price: 49,50 €
Between Note and Dream: Works on Paper by Arie Schippers
13 December 2014 – 8 March 2015
Arie Schippers (1952) is without doubt one of the most gifted and versatile Dutch artists of recent decades. Trained at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, he won the Prix de Rome in 1977 with a series of paintings of figures in cafés and restaurants. Since then — amongst many other things — he has made a set of sculpted ‘imaginary portraits’, a large group of figure paintings from his imagination and plein air paintings of the Netherlands around the turn of this century, with service stations, furniture malls and cars that are parked in landscapes like women’s shoes kicked off and lying on the floor. What many other artists might think was enough for an entire oeuvre keeps Schippers busy for a couple of years. As a consequence his body of work is made up of many oeuvres — each of them substantial.
Self-Portrait, 2008. Watercolour, 24.3 x 25.5 cm
Schippers last made the news in 2012, when he completed Long Walk to Freedom, a three and a half metre high, full-length bronze statue of Nelson Mandela in a suit, walking. It was unveiled by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Johan de Wittlaan in The Hague. (Schippers had previously made a painted bronze bust of the seventeenth-century politician Johan de Witt.)
He is one of the Netherlands’ best artists, but not one of the best known. Perhaps this is because he is a loner, who has neither gallery nor agent and shows no interest in prevailing fashions. Or perhaps it is because he does so many different things it’s impossible to get a grip on him. You cannot get what he makes at a glance, his work demands many glances. It is a rich, yet complex oeuvre. It is not easy to convey an image of Arie Schippers.
Nonetheless this winter we are going to try, in the Hôtel Lévis-Mirepoix. When the exhibition of the De Boer Collection opens on the first floor, an exhibition of work by Arie Schippers will open in the basement. Our entry into the oeuvre is his work on paper — because he has always drawn, regardless of what else he did.
Schippers’s sketchbooks will be displayed in showcases in all the rooms as the backbone to the exhibition. Since his time at the academy he has filled more than a hundred of them and they offer an insight into his mind. On page after page observations are noted, compositions tried out and characters developed. Time after time, as Paul Klee famously put it, he takes his pencil out for a walk.
What lies close together in origin, fans out far beyond the sketchbooks. In the seven rooms we will show how drawing functions for Arie Schippers. Little sketches of the modern landscape become independent line drawings and, when the subject has been sufficiently explored by drawing it, Schippers takes it further in oils. Painted and sculpted portraits are prepared in drawings. Decorative line drawings of paradisiacal animals anticipate the ‘fables’ that Schippers made in the 1990s, first in watercolours and then as paintings on paper. All the sides, all the wavelengths of his work will be shown in their context with the drawings. The drawings are the linking factor. They reveal, for example, that the — literally — fabulous compositions also provided material for later sculptures, and that in some respects they were the overtures to the large figure paintings that Schippers made in the early 2000s.
His inspiration for these figure works came from Goya’s tapestry designs, Velázquez’s Las Meninas and Gainsborough’s portraits-in-the-landscape. ‘I didn’t want to copy those painters literally,’ he says, ‘but to paraphrase them. I wanted to feel in my own hands the problems that faced them.’ So Schippers knows his classics, he is very conscious of the long tradition he works in. This is even clear from his drawing style, which can be Ingres-like sharp and linear, sketchy like the Impressionists or elegantly stylized like Matisse or Picasso. And yet a true Schippers always emerges. A good artist can be influenced by others as much as he wants — the result is always something specific to him.
Once you see it in the drawings, you also see it in the rest of Schippers’s work: forty years or so of unremitting interaction. Between tradition and innovation. Between observation and fantasy. Every ‘on the one hand’ is countered by an ‘on the other’ and Schippers thrives on variety. He can draw breathtakingly good portraits, birds or zoo animals, or foreshortened cars, with or without people loading their shopping into the boot. But, he says, ‘Working from observation is overestimated. There’s a lot against it. Far too much comes at you, and you can never really rein it in. I don’t work from observation that much because I can also do it from memory. But I can only do it from memory because when I was at the Rijksakademie I drew from life from nine in the morning until nine at night.’
Schippers can make convincing realities of his own because he has looked at reality so often and so intently. With imagined people who look like real individuals, precisely captured children playing and hanging around, beasts of prey that stalk their victims with lifelike stealth. Everything and everyone in these fantasy compositions stands firm, moves easily, has présence. Looking at them is like dreaming: you know they are all illusions, but you would swear that it was real.
Fiction and reality are inextricably linked. These days Arie Schippers delights in telling us about the richness of the two and their interrelationship, as many great artists before him also affirmed—from Velázquez to Picasso and from Goltzius to Van Gogh. In our eyes his drawings deserve the same attention.
Gijsbert van der Wal
Gijsbert van der Wal, Tussen notitie en droom. Werk op papier van Arie Schippers / Entre notation et rêve. L’œuvre sur papier d’Arie Schippers
Fondation Custodia, Paris – De Weideblik, Varik, 2014
159 pp, 30 x 22,5 cm, ca. 185 pl., hardback
ISBN 978 90 77767 53 5
Price: 25,00 €
Bosch to Bloemaert: Fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Netherlandish drawings from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam
from 22 March to 22 June 2014
For the first time in France, part of the exceptional collection of early drawings from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam is to be exhibited in Paris, at the Fondation Custodia, from 22 March to 22 June 2014.
Jheronimus Bosch, The Owl’s Nest, c. 1505–15
Pen and brown ink on paper, 141 x 197 mm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (Franz Koenigs Collection), inv. N 175
From Jheronimus Bosch to Pieter Bruegel and Abraham Bloemaert, 142 of the most important drawings from the Rotterdam museum holding one of the richest collections of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Netherlandish drawings, will be unveiled to the French public.
Taking centre stage at the exhibition will be The Owl’s Nest, a remarkable piece by Jheronimus Bosch. The drawing owes its exceptional character to the quality of its execution and its rarity, for only very few works on paper of Bosch have survived. The motif of an owl in its natural environment also carries allegorical significance given the gallows visible in the distance. Indeed, the life of the owl is often regarded with suspicion, and owl-like behaviour is associated with a life of sin.
Pieter Bruegel, considered alongside Bosch and Van Eyck as one of the greatest figures in Flemish painting, will also be featured. Six of his drawings produced between 1552 and 1562 will be exhibited. Among these, the public will discover three sketches for engravings representing allegories of virtues and impressive landscapes.
In addition, the public will be invited to admire a series of eight rare fifteenth-century pieces. Extremely delicately drawn, mostly by silverpoint, these include Portrait of a Young Woman by Petrus Christus, a follower of Van Eyck.
Also on display will be twelve round drawings of the months of the year conceived as a medieval calendar by Hans Bol, which the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen purchased in 2005. Flemish Renaissance artist Hans Bol was particularly renowned for his fine drawings. As a landscapist, he was the main successor of Pieter Bruegel.
Aside from masterly sheets by artists such as Aertgen van Leyden, Joos van Winghe, Adam van Noort, Hans Speckaert, Maarten de Vos and David Vinckboons, all seldom shown to the French public, the exhibition will also be an opportunity to view immensely varied ensembles by Maarten van Heemskerck, Hendrick Goltzius (sixteen drawings), Jacques de Gheyn, Karel van Mander, Johannes Stradanus and Abraham Bloemaert.
The 142 drawings shown will cover a period ranging from the late Middle Ages to the Dawn of the Golden Age, from 1460 to 1620. The variety and quality of this exhibition will enable the public to discover the different functions of drawing: from the search for a composition or a group of figures for a painting, the study of folds and drapery, portrait drawings, to designs for stained-glass windows or engravings, studies of nature or depictions of imaginary scenes or episodes from literature or the Bible. Techniques used are so diverse that the exhibition and its catalogue constitute a perfect overview of early drawing in the Low Countries.
Yvonne Bleyerveld, Albert Elen, Judith Niessen et al.
Bosch to Bloemaert. Early Netherlandish Drawings in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Fondation Custodia & Editions THOTH, Bussum, 2014
298 pp, 22.5 x 28 cm, ca. 235 pl., paperback with flysheets, ISBN 978 90 6868 644 9
Price: € 49.90 (Sold out)
Biography of a drawing
The mysterious drawing that attracted a great deal of attention in 2012 during the exhibition ‘The Road to Van Eyck’ in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is now on show in Paris.
A video has been made about the discovery of this rare drawing by Jan van Eyck or one of his followers.
Dialogues: Drawings from the Fondation Custodia and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
from 22 March to 22 June 2014
Parallel to the exhibition of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century drawings that will be occupying the first floor of Hôtel Lévis-Mirepoix, a second exhibition will be taking place over the same dates (22 March-22 June 2014), in the building’s basement.
Stefano da Verona, Samson killing the lion
Pen and brown ink, 278 x 197 mm
Paris, Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, inv. 1339
This exhibition, entitled Dialogues: Drawings from the Fondation Custodia and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, will offer the public the chance to admire pairings comprising drawings belonging to the Fondation Custodia (Frits Lugt Collection) and notable sheets from Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. This will be a unique occasion to confront drawings by a single artist, sheets with a stylistic relationship, or drawings whose subjects generate exciting comparisons.
Examples include two views of a courtyard drawn en plein air in strong sunlight by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, probably coming from the same album and radiating the same summery atmosphere. It seems that the well in the Rotterdam drawing is no other than a close-up of the structure visible through the gate of the Tiepolo drawing conserved by the Fondation Custodia. It could very well be that the two sheets were drawn during the same session and in the same place.
Some of the sheets from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen come from the collection gathered by the intrepid Franz Koenigs (1881–1941). A banker by profession, Koenigs was, between 1921 and 1930, the foremost collector of drawings on the international market. Frits Lugt (father of the Fondation Custodia) described him thus: “He was prepared to pay any price, provided it was an exceptional sheet, and his eye, his flair and the speed with which he took decisions amazed everyone who knew him.” The exhibition, Dialogues: Drawings from the Fondation Custodia and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, will include the ultimate depiction of the insatiable collector’s gaze that characterized both Frits Lugt and Franz Koenigs – The Collector by Daumier –, paired with a watercolour by Henri-Joseph Harpignies with a view in his studio. A total of 40 drawings will be confronted, namely by Cosmè Tura, Vittore Carpaccio, Pontormo, Rubens, Rembrandt, Boucher, Fragonard, Watteau, Goya, Delacroix, Monet, Cézanne, Signac, and Jongkind.
On line catalogue exhibition Un Univers intime
Un Univers intime
Paintings from the Frits Lugt Collection
1 March - 27 May 2012