Flemish painters from the Hermitage features a selection from the Flemish art collection of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. With 75 paintings and about 20 drawings, this survey includes numerous masterpieces by the three giants of the Antwerp School – Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens – accompanied by the work of well-known contemporaries.
Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) is a special focus of the exhibition, represented by 17 paintings and many drawings. Rubens was the most accomplished and influential Flemish painter of the seventeenth century.
The exhibition also examine Rubens’s influence and followers in detail, devoting particular attention to the elegant and refined portraits of his greatest pupil, Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641).
The third great master of the Flemish school, Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678), did not study with Rubens but was influenced by him.
Many of these paintings were acquired by Catherine the Great in the eighteenth century. They belonged to world-class collectors such as Pierre Crozat and Heinrich von Brühl, whose collections Catherine purchased in their entirety. Most of them were commissioned by churches and secular patrons in Antwerp and other European cities, and were produced against the backdrop of the Eighty Years’ War and the Counter-Reformation. This Catholic movement, a reaction to the Reformation, encouraged both churches and private individuals to commission sacred art on a large scale. The epic Baroque style of Rubens and his contemporaries made an excellent propaganda tool for the Catholic church, the aristocracy and the wealthy bourgeoisie.
Hermitage Amsterdam Website