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The Artful Image at the National Gallery of Denmark
Jan Harmensz Muller (1571 - 1628), Cain Killing Abel. The Royal Collection of Prints and Drawings, c. 1589.

COPENHAGEN.- After becoming free from Spanish control, Haarlem grew in the 1580s into one of the leading artistic centers in the young Republic of the Netherlands. Central to this blossoming prosperity were artists such as Karel van Mander, Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem, and, not least of all, Hendrick Goltzius. Together they formed a study circle devoted to Haarlem Mannerism, as it became known. Their particular pictorial language was characterized by a strong awareness of style and cultivated elegance, not to mention a pursuit of an expression that prioritized artful ingenuity over naturalism. Their work depicted exaggeratedly brawny musclemen, violent drama, wild fantasy, and a rare richness of detail. Publication of these engravings meant at the same time that the Haarlem mannerists’ works quickly became accessible to many, and at a low price, and so their distinguishing trademarks were also passed down to subsequent generations of Dutch artists. The dissemination of graphic works also went hand in hand with the dawning theorization of art that characterized the 16th century.

Original and copy
The exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark makes copper engraver and publisher Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617) its natural focal point. It was in his workshop that the Haarlem artists developed their unique engraving style, and it was his publishing house that published the majority of prints at the highpoint of Haarlem mannerism. Together with colleagues and students, Goltzius personally reproduced a long series of artworks by international masters, especially Italians. But, as the exhibition shows, reproduction engraving by the Haarlem mannerists rapidly turned into a special and independent art form, in which the graphic artist was judged on his degree of technical inventiveness and ability to interpret the original whilst adding in his own artistic expertise and creativity to the work. The engravers competed amongst one another and their prints soon attained a paradoxical degree of independence underpinned by the fact that many contemporaneous painters used them as models for their own works. When looking at Danish ecclesiastical art from 1580-1700, one again sees Haarlem-inspired imagery occurring in the form of carved or painted figures in numerous altarpieces, pulpits and epitaphs.

From the collection of Christian IV
The exhibition in the National Gallery of Denmark shows a total of 72 works, a selection of the sought-after collection of Dutch graphic art in the Royal Collection of Prints and Drawings, supplemented with individual works from the museum’s painting and sculpture collection. The museum’s collection of Dutch mannerism was established under Christian IV, who, in keeping with the international fashion at royal courts of the time, had his castle decorated with mannerist art obtained almost exclusively from the Netherlands.

The Royal Collection of Prints and Drawings
With the exhibition “The Artful Image." The Haarlem Mannerists 1580-1600,” the National Gallery of Denmark continues its series of exhibitions and publications focusing on the artistic fields represented in the Royal Collection of Prints and Drawings. With two annual retrospective exhibitions and accompanying catalogues, it is the museum’s ambition to further highlight the multifaceted nature of art on paper. The exhibitions and the catalogues will all be based on the museum’s research and the rich collection of more than 240,000 drawings, graphic works and photographs currently included in the Royal Collection of Prints and Drawings. In other words, the exhibitions trace an impressive streak of artworks spanning 700 years, which in several of the exhibitions will be put into perspective with important loans from other institutions both in Denmark and abroad. The revitalization of The Royal Collection of Prints and Drawings was initiated last spring with Jakob S. Boeskov’s exhibition “Siggimund”, and next year the museum will be following up with exhibitions of Danish and international photography, along with drawings and graphics by Picasso.

National Gallery of Denmark | Hendrick Goltzius | Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem | Dutch Artists |

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