A golden age of painting

The 17th century is generally regarded as being a golden age for painting, particularly in the Netherlands and Spain. For this exhibition, the work of artists from both countries can be seen along with the similarities in their painting traditions. The period is well-regarded for its artistic and scientific achievements, though the former is the focus for this exhibition. It was also a period of political tension, war and discovery, the effect of which can be seen in a range of art works.

The two leading lights as far as painters go are, of course, Rembrandt and Velázquez, though their contemporaries Zurbarán and Murillo in Spain, and Vermeer and Frans Hals in the Netherlands, were forces to be reckoned with. While little connections were made at the time, the artists all shared similarities in their pursuit of artistic ambition, their fasciation with realism and in how they portrayed religious themes.

How the works are displayed

A key and intriguing trait of this exhibition is its installation. Two paintings, one from each country, are displayed side by side to highlight the connections between two artists. It’s a fascinating way to compare and contrast paintings bringing stimulating and surprising dialogues to the fore.

Rembrandt-Velázquez: Dutch & Spanish Masters is the result of a unique partnership between the Rijksmuseum and Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.