Though masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance and those from the Dutch Golden Age are now equally admired (judging from their reproductions gracing everything from posters to barbecue aprons), in the century spanning the 16th and 17th centuries, the supremacy of one artistic center over the other was hotly debated.
(Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” via Wikimedia Commons)
The northern and southern styles of painting were seen as fundamentally different by these Flemish and Mediterranean artists’ contemporaries, but their reciprocal influence is undeniable. To see just how closely woven these two schools once were, stop in at the “Vermeer: The Golden Age of Dutch Art” exhibition, running in Bologna’s Palazzo Fava until May 25th.
(Caravaggio’s “Salome with the Head of John the Baptist” via Wikimedia Commons)
Featuring eight Vermeers (including the show’s crown jewel, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”) and 49 other works by contemporaries such as Rembrandt and Hals, this show demonstrates how the development in the use of light, color, and composition ran parallel as artists (and their paintings) criss-crossed between the two countries.
(Rembrandt’s “The Abduction of Europa” via Wikimedia Commons)
Though the Dutch artists concentrated on domestic scenes and pastorals (more popular with the Protestant market), and their Italian colleagues depicted largely religious subjects (satisfying their Catholic patrons), and Dutch works tended toward more muted colors and less dramatic poses than their southern counterparts, the inspiration Dutch artists drew from figures like Caravaggio and Titian for the use of light, and the adoption of Flemish landscape techniques by the Italian Baroque painters.
(Titian’s “Concerto Campestre” via Wikimedia Commons)
This is the last stop for many of these Vermeer masterpieces (including “Girl with a Pearl Earring”) after shows in Japan and the US, and the painting isn’t slated to travel again from The Hague for years to come. If you are visiting Bologna this spring, take advantage of this unique opportunity to see Flemish art in the land, which both inspired and was inspired by this school.