Saturday, November 12, 2016

Learning How the Sausage Is Made

Where: National Gallery of Art

When: through January 2, 2017

How can I already be going to shows that will close in 2017?  This year has sped by on gossamer wings.

This is a good sized show on the drawings that underpin the paintings from the time of Rembrandt, a golden age of painting - think the Netherlands in the 1600s. The drawings were the starting point for the finished artworks and allow art historians to gain insight into how the creative process proceeded.

What I found most interesting was that artists would keep drawings in a notebook and use them in various combinations to make a painting - rather like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle.  Need a house?  Flip through the notebook and find one that fits!  Want to change the leg position of one of your subjects?  Back to the notebook for a new posture!

There were several Hendrick Avercamp paintings on display - did I see some of his work in the "little ice age" show a few years ago?  They looked very familiar.  The best way I can describe them is as Currier & Ives for the 17th century Dutch.  If you like winter scenes, heavy on the ice skating, this is your guy.

I also noticed a piece called "Sleeping Spaniel" by Frans Van Mieris the Elder - it looked a bit like a Cavalier.

Verdict: I liked this show and would recommend it, both for the art and for the "peek behind the curtain."

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