Lecture series: Masters of simplicity
Art historians speak about the art of the Dutch golden age
The exceptional quality of Dutch 17th-century painting is unique in the history of art. Today, Rembrandt’s dramatic portraits, Vermeer’s quiet interiors and the riot of blooms in classic Dutch still lifes continue to turn heads.
In this series of lectures, three art historians examine why these artists are so celebrated and why this period was so distinct in the history of the visual arts.
Image: Nicolaes Maes Girl at a window, known as ‘The daydreamer’ 1653–55 (detail), Rijksmuseum
29 November - 13 December 2017
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Duration 1 hour
Location: Domain Theatre
Related exhibition: Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age
The art of the everyday: introducing the golden age
Dr Georgina Cole
Dutch painting of the 17th century is one of the most extraordinary of art historical phenomena for its technical brilliance and meticulous attention to ordinary people and things. Artists represented the world around them in all its imperfections – a withered tulip in a vase, a spilt drink, a crack in a wall. This lectures looks at some of the key artists and artworks from the period and explains why the Dutch turned their attention to the simple and subtle subjects of daily life.
Georgina Cole is a lecturer in the department of art history and theory at the National Art School. She specialises in 17th- and 18th-century art and art theory and has written on the idea of the threshold in Dutch genre painting.
Wednesday 29 November 2017 6pm – 7pm
Vermeer: the god of small things
Dr Josephine Touma
Johannes Vermeer is today lauded as one of the most important painters in the history of Western art. Virtually forgotten for two centuries, he was rediscovered in the 1800s by critics and artists (including fellow Dutchman Vincent van Gogh) who celebrated his unerring eye for atmosphere, colour and form. The elusive nature of his subjects, the paucity of historical evidence about his life and the extreme rarity of his paintings (only 35 are known to exist today) have earned him the nickname ‘the Sphinx of Delft’. This lecture explores Vermeer and the various theories about just why his small body of work attracts such adulation, with a focus on his mesmerising Woman in blue reading a letter.
Josephine Touma is exhibition researcher for the Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age: masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum. She is also the manager of public programs at the Art Gallery of NSW and an art historian specialising in 17th- and 18th-century European art.
Wednesday 6 December 2017 6pm – 7pm
Rembrandt: painter of the human spirit
Dr Stephanie Dickey
What is it about Rembrandt that has made him one of the most beloved painters of all time? Connoisseurs point to his expressive handling of paint. Historians trace the outlines of his brave and complicated life. But for many viewers, in his own time and in ours, it is the emotional depth of his imagery that draws us in. This lecture explores how Rembrandt’s portraits and Biblical scenes capture the human spirit with vivid imagination and profound insight.
Stephanie Dickey is professor and Bader Chair in northern baroque art in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation at Queens University, Canada. She specialises in Dutch and Flemish art of the 17th century and is the author of several books on Rembrandt.
Wednesday 13 December 2017 6pm – 7pm