Through the generosity of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, from 3 December the Prado
will be displaying a masterpiece by the Dutch painter Frans Hals, Company of Captain Reijnier Reael and Lieutenant Cornelis Michielsz Blaeuw (1633-1637), which was completed by his fellow-countryman Pieter Codde. This magnificent work by one of the most important Dutch painters of the 17th century is to be seen at the Museum as part of its Invited Work programme. In 1885 Van Gogh said of it: Just to see that painting would make the journey to Amsterdam worthwhile. The canvas will be shown in conjunction with the exhibition Dutch Painters at the Prado and will create a fascinating conclusion to this exhibition of Dutch paintings from the Museums own collection. The publication of the first catalogue raisonné of the collection, written by Teresa Posada Kubissa, Curator of the Department of Flemish and Northern Schools (up to 1700), encouraged the organisation of this exhibition. For the first time, the exhibition brings together 56 of the most important paintings from this little-known aspect of the Museums collections. While for historical reasons some of the greatest names of Dutch art are not represented in the Prado, many of the most celebrated and highly esteemed painters of the day are to be found.
The exhibition and catalogue raisonné
The research and study involved in preparing the present exhibition and the new catalogue have allowed for a reassessment of a number of works previously considered to be Dutch to be reassigned to the Flemish school, thus clarifying and refining the Museums Dutch collection. With the publication of this catalogue, the Prado continues its series of publications launched with the catalogue raisonné of its El Greco holdings. These publications are intended to offer in-depth information on the works in the Museums collection. As a result of years of preparatory study and research into the style, technique and documentation of the Dutch paintings, and the restoration of a large number of them, the new catalogue now includes 100 works attributed to 17th-century Dutch painters and excludes 26 traditionally attributed to that school. In addition, it proposes 19 new attributions.
The carefully selected group of works in the exhibition includes the only work by Rembrandt in the Prados collection and the only one in a Spanish public collection universally accepted by experts. The paintings subject is now identified as Judith at the Banquet of Holofernes following detailed research undertaken for the catalogue. This new iconographic reading of Rembrandts famous painting replaces the previous one of Artemisia about to drink the ashes of her husband Mausolus. Rembrandts masterpiece is shown in the exhibition alongside Salomon de Brays Judith presenting the Head of Holofernes, as well as other outstanding works of the Dutch school such as The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Matthias Stom, Jupiter and the other Gods urge Apollo to take up the Reins of Days Chariot by Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem, and Setting out with the Herd by Jan Both.
In addition, the exhibition includes works in all the genres characteristic of Dutch painting: marine views including Naval Combat by Hendrik Cornelisz. Vroom, and Beach with Fishermen by Adam Willaerts; winter landscapes such as The Port of Amsterdam in winter by Hendrik Jacobsz. Dubbels; genre scenes such as Rustic Concert with Flute and Violin by Adriaen van Ostade, and Disembarkation of a Retinue in a River Port by Hendrik van Minderhout; still lifes including Dead Cockerel by Gabriel Metsu, and Still Life with silver Goblet and Watch by Willem Claesz. Heda; and portraits such as Portrait of a Lady from the Beijeren van Schagen Family by Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt. The exhibition also includes a sizeable group of large-format Italianate landscapes by Herman van Swanevelt and Jan Both, commissioned in Rome on the order of Philip IV to decorate the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid.