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Herman van Swanevelt landscape finds new home at the Crocker Art Museum
Herman van Swanevelt, A Bacchanal in a Landscape, 1645. Oil on canvas, 25 11/16 x 31 5/16 in. Crocker Art Museum, purchase with funds provided by Malcolm McHenry.


SACRAMENTO, CA.- The Crocker Art Museum announced the acquisition of the 1645 painting "A Bacchanal in a Landscape" by Herman van Swanevelt, the Dutch artist known for revolutionizing landscape painting in 1630s Rome along with his French contemporary Claude Lorrain.

"A Bacchanal in a Landscape" depicts a satyr family in an Italian landscape, reflecting the Classicizing changes epitomized by both Swanevelt and Claude. Swanevelt has created a multi-layered world of rich, green fields and forests, with a foreground bathed in sunlight and framed with towering trees. A nymph dances to a satyr's tambourine while others witness the dance, or tend to their children as their goats graze nearby.

The painting joins a 1639 drawing by Swanevelt, as well as works in the Crocker collection by other Dutch artists who spent time in Italy during the 17th century. Such artists as Bartholomeus Breenbergh, who depicted the temple at Tivoli in 1627, and Willem van Bemmel, who recorded the Colosseum in Rome later in the century, represent the artistic generations before and after Swanevelt. Swanevelt’s own pen and ink drawing of "A Satyr Family" from 1639, also in the Crocker collection, was created in Rome, before the artist brought the new Classicizing landscape type to Paris. There, in 1645, he created this charming scene which now, after nearly 375 years, finds its home in the Crocker galleries.

"This acquisition is especially relevant considering that the Museum's founder, E.B. Crocker, acquired an important Swanevelt drawing when he established the collection nearly 150 years ago," said Lial A. Jones, the Crocker Art Museum's Mort & Marcy Friedman Director & CEO. "We are proud to welcome this and other recent acquisitions to Sacramento as we grow and transform the selection of European paintings in the Crocker’s holdings.”

Born in 1603 in Woerden, a town in the central Netherlands, Swanevelt moved to Paris as a young man. Recorded in Rome in 1627/28, he lived in a district near the Palazzo Barberini and became a member of both the Accademia di San Luca, the Roman painters' association, and the rowdy confraternity of Dutch and Flemish artists in the city known as the Schildersbent. Though Claude Lorrain was long considered to be Swanevelt’s teacher in Rome, it is now known that they were friends and rivals instead.

While in Rome, Swanevelt gained commissions from Church officials including the cardinals Barberini and Pamphilj. He also painted frescoes for both the Palazzo Pamphilj in Piazza Navona and the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

In 1641, Swanevelt journeyed to other Italian cities and made his way back to Northern Europe, settling in Paris in 1643 where he remained for the rest of his life. He was made painter to the six-year-old Louis XIV, likely through the King's regent, Anne of Austria, which brought him much success. He became a member of the recently founded Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1651.

Both a painter and a printmaker, Swanevelt not only rendered canvases for the most prominent collectors in the city, but also produced series of landscape etchings. His influence on landscape painting endured for centuries after his death in 1655.

Herman van Swanevelt’s “A Bacchanal in a Landscape” is now on view in the Crocker Art Museum’s historic building.






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