Kunsthaus Zürich presents masterpieces of landscape painting

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Kunsthaus Zürich presents masterpieces of landscape painting
Nicolaes Berchem, Shepherd and Shepherdess in the Campagna, c. 1670/1675. Oil on oak panel, 29.7 x 37 cm. Kunsthaus Zürich, The Betty and David Koetser Foundation, 1986.

ZURICH.- The exhibition brings together some outstanding works dating from between 1450 and 1800 to create a panorama of landscape painting. They include canvases from the Kunsthaus’s holdings painted in Germany, present-day Switzerland, Flanders, Holland and Italy by artists such as Joachim Patinir, Hendrick Avercamp, Jan van Goyen, Jacob van Ruisdael, Claude Lorrain, Domenichino and Bernardo Bellotto.

The presentation opens with a number of late medieval paintings in which the primary purpose of the landscape is to animate the depiction of a Biblical scene such as the birth of Christ and present it in the best light. They are followed by Netherlandish and Italian landscapes from the 16th century, including works by Adriaen Isenbrant and Joachim Patinir as well as a painting attributed to Titian. Especially fine works by the Flemish Jan Brueghel (1568–1625) herald the start of landscape painting’s heyday in the 17th century, when the genre scales new heights, most notably in Holland. For the Baroque, nature is a second Bible: reflecting the prevailing Protestant faith, Dutch artists tend to eschew religious motifs in the narrower sense, and instead develop a rich tradition of landscape painting. On display are works by Hendrick Avercamp (1585–1634), Jan van Goyen (1596–1656), Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29–1682), Nicolaes Berchem (1621/22–1683) and also the hitherto neglected female ‘Old Master’ Margareta de Heer (1600/1603–1665), with a unique small painting showing a distant view of a landscape combined with a close-up of a garden scene.

The presentation of 17th-century Dutch landscape painting is followed by views created during the same period in Italy. Alongside a work by Domenichino and another by Salvator Rosa are two magnificent paintings (one from the Kunsthaus Collection, the other on long-term loan from a private collector) by Claude Lorrain (c. 1600–1682), who was born in what is now France but worked primarily in Italy. This section consists mainly of important 18th-century landscapes from Italy by artists including Bernardo Bellotto (1721–1780).

The presentation also includes a series of works from the late 19th and the 20th century. In early modern landscapes, artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Giovanni Segantini and Maurice de Vlaminck react in a strikingly different way to the open country that the Old Masters had painted so emblematically. Also on display is an important ensemble of works by the American post-war artist Cy Twombly who, from his base in Italy, engaged with the places and myths of Antiquity.

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