De Wind is Op! Climate, Culture and Innovation in Dutch Maritime Painting
Opening Date: July 2, 2019
A companion symposium will be held at the Museum October 18-19, 2019
In the summer of 2019, the New Bedford Whaling Museum (NBWM) will explore our extraordinary collections of Golden Age Dutch and Flemish paintings through a fresh lens. These works will be interpreted around the themes of wind, climate and sea as the drivers behind a uniquely Dutch national identity represented in maritime works of art of this period. Dutch artists arguably invented seascape painting, and were the first to specialize in this genre. Their influence reverberates in all that followed, from the work of J.M.W. Turner to Winslow Homer to New Bedford artists William Bradford and Albert Pinkham Ryder. De Wind is Op! will include up to 50 paintings, prints, and other related artifacts drawn from the Museum’s Dutch collections, one of the largest and important of this genre outside of the Netherlands. There will also be a complementary exhibition in the fall of 2019 of European and American prints, paintings, and charts related to wind and climate themes.
The sea and seafaring shaped the Dutch collective identity. They were a political entity without precedence, and the art world followed the new cultural and societal models unique to the newly formed Dutch Republic. The Dutch were a dominant superpower in all things maritime, including worldwide trade, military strength, and whaling. They were a world emporium, trading timber, grain, salt, cloth, luxury materials throughout the global waterways. This was a time of great artistic production to keep up with a high demand for collecting, when a baker was as likely to have fine artwork in his home as a banker. Popular taste was for greatly refined compositions, exquisiteness of detail, and plausible reality. Dutch openness to innovation allowed them to manipulate their own watery landscapes with dams and wind power and to design ship modifications that maximized successful access to the Northern seas and the dramatic fluctuating climate during the Little Ice Age. Vulnerability to tidal deluge and to tempests at sea carried moral and nationalistic themes in paintings from this era. These themes and others are the foundation of the exhibition.
The wind lashes the beach, howls fiercely where I stand,
And blows into my face a very sea of sand.
The tide seethes and foams, and gusts of hail are urging
Shoreward the pelted waves, billowing, splashing, surging
So that the brine exceeds all marks and leaves the dune
Hardly sufficient height to rise above the spume.
– Hendrik Snakenburg (Leiden, 1674 – 1750)
Dr. Christina Connett Brophy
The Douglas and Cynthia Crocker Endowed Chair for the Chief Curator
Dr. Roger Mandle
Co-Founder of Design Art Technology Massachusetts (DATMA); Former Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Art; and former President of the Rhode Island School of Design
This exhibition is timed to coincide with the inaugural Summer Winds 2019 run by the New Bedford group Design Art Technology Massachusetts (DATMA), a creative and educational city-wide platform for discussion and exploration of wind energy. Multiple partners in the cultural sector will contribute programs, exhibitions, and educational events to this initiative throughout the summer. De Wind is Op! will be a major contribution to the Summer Winds project and serve as a cornerstone of summer programming events. The Museum will also partner with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) and Harvard Art Museums to collaborate on a major symposium in fall 2019 to examine Dutch maritime artwork in accordance with the major exhibition themes.
Top Banner Caption: (detail) Johanes de Blaauw (1712-1778). Whaleship D’Vergulde Walvis (“The Golden Whale”) passing the tollhouse at Buiksloot ib tge IJ River, north of Amsterdam, 1759. Oil on canvas, 21.5 x 27 inches.