Dutch and Flemish Paintings from the 17th Century

Leo and Phyllis Beranek Gallery (Gallery 243)

The 17th-century Netherlands was defined by political strife. The Eighty Years’ War split the region into an independent, largely Protestant Dutch Republic in the north and a Catholic Southern Netherlands ruled by Spain. Divergent artistic styles emerged in the two regions. This and the adjacent galleries feature Dutch and Flemish paintings drawn from the MFA’s collection, which has been substantially enriched by the promised gift of works from Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie. The gallery’s north wall displays masterpieces by the Flemish painters Rubens and Van Dyck, who were active in the Catholic South. Working primarily for the Church and wealthy patrons, they created an exuberant and colorful style meant to inspire and move the viewer. Dutch artists, by contrast, pioneered new genres and developed a naturalistic style that reflected the world around them. Among the new types of painting were still lifes, like Willem Claesz. Heda’s Still Life with Glasses and Tobacco (1633), which features a Mediterranean lemon and other exotic imports.