The exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum
showcases 70 works from the collection of Jef Rademakers, one of the largest private collections of nineteenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings in Europe. Today it includes over 100 pictures by Romanticists, the earliest dating from 1806 and the latest from the 1870s. The paintings on display deal with the entire range of subjects that attracted Romantic artists from the Low Countries: summer and winter landscapes, seascapes and townscapes, a variety of still-lifes, night scenes, portraits and genre compositions. The core of the collection is formed by so-called lofty landscapes. Another noteworthy part of the collection consists of works by the Flemish painter Basile do Loose.
The exhibited works are part of the private collection of the Belgian-Dutch art enthusiast and former television producer and writer Jef Rademakers. His collection, comprising approximately 100 paintings, is first being exhibited in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and will go to Leuven thereafter.
Through the Romanticist's eyes is arranged thematically and leads visitors through five subjects: the genre, architecture, the landscape, the seascape and the nocturne. The exhibition was conceived as a journey of discovery through a forgotten and occasionally reviled art movement.
The core of the collection is formed by a number of sublime landscapes. Sublime is here used in the art-historical sense of the word, which indicates that landscapes are both pleasing to the eye and terrifying at the same time. The magnificent nature, painted with so much skill and devotion, gets in these works of art by its magnitude and greatness something ominous from the very beginning.
An integral part of this group of sublime landscapes is formed by so-called nocturnes. These outstanding examples of poetical works, where the delicate moonlight is reflected in the water, inspire to introspection about the meaning of live and the putting into perspective of the hectic of daytime. In more than twenty paintings of the Rademakers Collection the night is the ruler of the world and that is no coincidence. Jacob Abels, the specialist in this kind of landscapes was not only a follower of his 17th century example Aert van der Neer, but in technical respect sometimes surpassed his earlier example. About him Jef Rademakers wrote a dense biography: 'Painter of the Night'.
Esthetical exaltation, melancholy, mystery and even religious experiences are the very characteristics for the period of Romanticism, that is evoked in these works of art.
The technique of the artists of the little-known Romantic School of Painting was excellent and they produced sublime, picturesque gems. The exhibition includes works by Barend Cornelis Koekkoek, Andreas Schelfhout, David de Noter, Fredrik Marinus Kruseman, Jacob Abels, Basile de Loose and Petrus van Schendel, amongst other.
The exhibition runs through February 6, 2011.