"RUBENS, BRUEGHEL, LORRAIN. THE NORDIC LANDSCAPE OF PRADO MUSEUM" in Lisbon, hosted by the National Ancient Art Museum - featuring 57 paintings of the great landscape masters of the 17th century – is the first exhibition in Portugal made up exclusively by works of the Prado Museum, one of the most important museums in the world.
The Prado collection of Flemish and Dutch landscapes gathers unquestionable masterpieces of some of the representative painters that are responsible for landscape as an autonomous pictorial genre. The majority of the paintings in the exhibition of the National Ancient Art Museum come from the Spanish royal collections, which are the original core.
In the second half of the 16th century one can see a shift in the themes used by the artists from Northern Europe, especially from the Netherlands, that were designated by the Italians as “Nordic”. Throughout the 17th century painters and collectors remove themselves from heroic motives, which are characteristic in historic painting, approaching more everyday life themes, which become worthy of being represented. Among those themes is landscape that later becomes an independent pictorial genre.
The exhibition is divided in 9 sections which correspond to the different landscape typologies that emerged in Flanders and Holland: “The Mountain: crossroad of paths”, “The Woods as scenery: life in the woods, the biblical woods and the enchanted forest, travelers meeting point”, “Rubens and Landscape”, “Life in the Countryside”, “In the gardens of the Palace”, “Ice and Snow Landscape”, “Water landscape: sea, beaches, harbors and rivers”, “Exotic landscapes, far away lands”, and “In Italy light is painted.”
The most outstanding masters of Nordic landscape in the 17th century comprise this display with important works such as Alpine Landscape by Tobias Verhaecht. Life in Countryside, Abundance and the Four Elements and Wedding Feast by Jan Brueghel, the Elder, and also The Vision of St Hubert, painted in collaboration with Rubens, Landscape with Gypsies, The Archers by David Teniers, or the dramatic Siege of Aire-sur-la-Lys, by Peeter Snayers and, a Wood, by Simon de Vlieger.
The two more characteristic typologies of landscapes painted by Northern European artists – winter landscape and water landscape – are represented, among others, by the delicate painting The Port of Amsterdam on Winter, by Hendrick Jacobsz. Sea Harbour or The Landing of Dutch in Brazil by Jan Peeters refers to the far away lands where the Dutch had their presence due to maritime trade.
Lastly, Rubens, the Great master of Nordic landscape with Atalanta and Meleager with the calydonian boar.
The exhibition ends with some landscapes ordered by the King Philip IV of Spain to Claude Lorrain and Jan Both, to decorate the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid. These two young painters began the so-called Italianizing Landscape in Rome.