Caesar van Everdingen (1616/17-1678): Young Woman in a Broad-Brimmed Hat, c. 1645-1650. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Article: Caesar van Everdingen: a Dutch and Finnish Collaboration on 17th-Century Painting

Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

As an important new exhibition on an unsung hero of the Dutch Golden Age travels to Helsinki’s Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Gill Crabbe meets the Dutch curator Christi Klinkert who has been pioneering the artist’s rediscovery

The Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki is fortunate to hold a small cluster of Dutch Old Master paintings in its collection, including Monk Reading (1661) by Rembrandt, Young Woman with a Glass of Wine, Holding a Letter in her Hand (c. 1665) by Gerard ter Borch, Joseph’s Bloody Coat (1655) by Govaert Flinck, and Still Life (1637) by Willem Claesz Heda to mention a few examples. Part of the Dutch masters collection is shown on a regular basis.

While art historians specialising in the Dutch Golden Age have traditionally focused on exhibitions by the great masters like Rembrandt, Hals and Vermeer, research trends in the past 15 years in the Netherlands have opened up broader perspectives on this extraordinary period in its nation’s art history, bringing to light new names and artists whose contributions are worthy of attention. This kind of development is where the collaboration between research professionals and art-museum professionals can bear abundant fruit.

One such artist who has recently been under the spotlight is the Dutch Classicist painter Caesar van Everdingen, who last year was the subject of an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, which was the artist’s home town in the Netherlands. The show travels to the Sinebrychoff Art Museum in February 2017, which is something of a coup for the Sinebrychoff, as the exhibition is in fact the first monographic show of the artist to be mounted in 400 years, and thus introduces to the public a master painter who has hitherto been largely marginalised. So how did this collaboration come about?

In 2014, Dr Kirsi Eskelinen, Director of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, attended a conference of CODART, the worldwide network of curators of Dutch and Flemish art, where Dr Christi Klinkert, the Alkmaar museum’s Curator and the then Director Lidewij de Koekkoek, announced plans to mount an Everdingen show and suggested it could travel to a second venue. Eskelinen was one of several museum directors to show an interest. The Dutch and Finnish colleagues met the following year and found they were kindred spirits, having a strong commitment to research-based exhibitions with an emphasis on conservation. ‘Our museum was looking for an equal partner, not necessarily the biggest museum, but one with ambition,’ says Klinkert. ‘I think it will be good to see van Everdingen reaching beyond the mainland European countries like France or Germany and instead travelling to a country where perhaps you would least expect to find it. Yet I think that the quiet coolness of the paintings will strike a chord with the Finnish public.’

While van Everdingen may be an unfamiliar face on the scene in both countries, Klinkert points out that the time is ripe for the public to be introduced to a broader perspective on Dutch Golden Age painting: ‘After many decades of exhibitions on the canonised Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, the Dutch Classicist style has become an increasing area of interest to researchers. The first large-scale exhibition focusing on that style was the Dutch Classicism show in 1999 at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, which travelled in 2000 to the Städelische Kunstinstitut Frankfurt. At that show van Everdingen was represented by 14 paintings, with the catalogue text suggesting the artist deserved a solo exhibition at some time in the future.’

Featured image: Caesar van Everdingen (1616/171678): Young Woman in a Broad-Brimmed Hat, c. 16501660. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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‘Painting Beauty − Caesar van Everdingen’, a lecture by Dr Christi M. Klinkert, Curator, Stedelijk Museum, Alkmaar, Netherlands, takes place on February 16, 2017, at 6 pm, at Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki