Featuring works by many great northern European artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, A Changing Landscape catalogues many subjects of fascination among those who collected prints and drawings—Old Testament stories, classical myths and allegories, landscapes and genre scenes. The interest in print series as a way of ordering knowledge about the world is exemplified by series like Jacques Callot’s Gypsies, which is both a warning about strangers encountered on the road and a glimpse into their unconventional lives.
An area of great strength in the collection lies in Mannerist engravings by the Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius and his followers in Haarlem, ranging from Goltzius’s work through and after his journey to Rome, where he admired and attempted to best his artistic heroes, both ancient and modern. The collection also includes many fine figure studies, from the immediacy of a drowsing artist’s apprentice, attributed to Govaert Flinck, to the psychological complexity of Rembrandt’s etching of his wife Saskia, bedridden and terminally ill.
Landscape, that great touchstone of Dutch art, is represented here by prints and drawings that embody the exciting innovations in this genre in the years around 1600. A drawing by Hans Bol shows how the landscape backgrounds of biblical and mythological scenes steadily emerged into a genre of their own. Esaias van de Velde’s view of a Dutch fishing port with a tall beacon is also a nationalistic reminder about vigilance against the Spanish enemy. For many northern artists, the pull of Italy’s terrain and architecture proved irresistible, and many journeyed there, both literally and in spirit. A painstaking view of Tivoli, by the Flemish architect Lievin Cruyl, sparkles with sunlight; an Italian view by Dutch draftsman Jacob van der Ulft shows us the gates of Rome, even though van der Ulft, a town burgomaster, probably never set foot outside the Netherlands.
A Changing Landscape was jointly organized by the Johnson Museum and the SUArt Galleries, Syracuse University. We are very grateful to SUArt Galleries director Domenic J. Iacono and his staff for their professionalism and goodwill, and most of all to Arlene and Arthur Elkind for their kindness and generosity in making these works available to our visitors.
Andrew C. Weislogel
Assistant Curator / Master Teacher