Rembrandt van Rijn, The Rape of Ganymede, 1635, pen and brown ink, brown wash on paper, Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden
Washington art aficionados who have not seen the exhibition, Drawings for Paintings in the Age of Rembrandt, or who want to go again, have through Monday to view Dutch Golden Age drawings and paintings by 54 artists at the National Gallery of Art before the presentation moves to the Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection in Paris.
The display of 91 drawings and 27 paintings tells the "stories behind the paintings," said curator Arthur Wheelock at the show's opening. Like an author's or writer's first draft, these are the basis of the artists' last drafts. Said Mr. Wheeler: "The artistic process unfolds." Rather than painting "on site," many put colors and ink to paper in studios after they observed and sketched spectacular scenery, people, and interiors.
Seeing the "befores" and "afters" firsthand provides insight on the ways the artists worked, their methods and practices, what they kept, what they discarded.
Jan van Goyen made sketches of his trips out to the country which later became his landscapes; Pieter Jansz Saenredam used a compass, rulers, and a straightedge to make exquisitely detailed sketches of church interiors. Pieter Molijn completed Landscape with Open Gate, 1630-1635, in the studio after a visit to the Dutch shore where he drew the scene.
The drawing and painting above of Rembrandt's The Rape of Ganymede, both 1635, are a rare instance of an almost complete drawing used by the artist for his finished work. The catalog notes the final version contained the mother figure only but outlines of both parents at the bottom in the drawing shows the father aiming a weapon at the eagle. In the oil, the child urinates, in shock. Most artists drew Ganymede as a youth, and not as a baby. Mr. Wheeler said Rembrandt based it on the artist's observation of "a screaming kid being picked up by his parents."
Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art, one of the curators of the show and an author of the catalog, talks about the National Gallery's newly acquired A Woman Feeding a Parrot, with a Page (below), 1666 by Caspar Netscher, the purchase made possible by the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund, the first at the National Gallery by Netscher, the first time on view in the U.S., the first time it's hung with its "ricordo" (below)/Photo, Patricia Leslie
A Woman Feeding a Parrot, with a Page (above and below) by Caspar Netscher became part of Hermann Goering's collection after the Germans confiscated it in 1942 during World War II from the Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Belgium where the owners had stored it for safekeeping. When the war ended, the painting was purchased by a private collector and eventually was returned only two years ago to the heirs of the original owners. Then it sold at Christie's for $5.093 million to a London art dealer who sold it to the National Gallery this year.
Caspar Netscher, A Woman Feeding a Parrot, with a Page, 1666, National Gallery of Art, Washington
Caspar Netscher, Young Woman With a Parrot, 1666, the British Museum, London. The label says that rather than a study, this is likely a sketch or "ricordo" Netscher drew to hang in his studio as a reminder of the finished product after it sold. Through collaboration and rather than the usual timing of nine months to achieve such a loan, in a flash of a week, the British Museum rushed the drawing to Washington for the exhibition, marking the first time the two works have hung together.
Michiel van Musscher, An Artist in His Studio with His Drawings, mid-1660s, oil on panel, Liechtenstein, The Princely Collections, Vaduz-Vienna.
A member of a wealthy family, Leendert van der Cooghen did not need art to survive financially. Consequently, only three of his paintings, but several drawings and etchings, survive. He probably painted from life, from models in studios.
When: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday. The exhibition closes January 2, 2017. The National Gallery of Art is closed on New Year's Day.
Where: West Building, the National Gallery of Art, between Third and Ninth streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.
Admission charge: Always free
Metro stations for the National Gallery of Art:
Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives, or L'Enfant Plaza
For more information: 202-737-4215