press release

In the sixteenth century the Utrecht-based painter Jan van Scorel (1495-1562) brought the Italian Renaissance to the North. This artistic evolution will be examined in detail in the exhibition Scorel’s Glory at the Centraal Museum from 20 March until 28 June 2009. Scorel was the most important Dutch painter of his age and under his influence Utrecht became the most advanced centre for painting in the Northern Netherlands.

Painter to the Pope ‘Scorel’s Glory’ offers an overview of painting in Utrecht from 1350 to 1600, highlighting the works of Jan van Scorel. The well-travelled artist was greatly influenced by the Renaissance painter Raphael, whom he succeeded as keeper of the papal art collection. Back in Utrecht he amazed the locals with his Italian-inspired art and quickly received numerous commissions. Scorel’s work marks the transition from medieval to Renaissance painting. From this period there was renewed interest – based on the classical model – in the study of the human body. With improved understanding of anatomy and proportion human figures appear more natural and realistic than in earlier painting.

Art historians are like detectives There are many unanswered questions about Old Master paintings. Since the 1960s the Centraal Museum has been a pioneer of scientific research in this field. The use of infrared reflectography enables us to see the underdrawing and show us how the artist worked or the ideas that led to the final design. X-ray photographs have revealed figures that were later painted out of a composition or a beautiful sketch by Jan van Scorel beneath a mediocre painting. Dendrochronological research has proved decisive in confirming the date of one particular work. Recent research has given us a clearer picture of the competition between Jan van Scorel and his pupil Maarten van Heemskerck and which of them was more successful. This and many other new discoveries are highlighted in six case studies.

Old Masters in the Centraal Museum The collection of Old Masters is one of the highlights of the Centraal Museum’s collection. Utrecht’s painters were far more inspired by Rome than other painters in Holland. After Jan van Scorel introduced the Renaissance to Holland Abraham Bloemaert (1566-1651) and Joachim Wtewael (1566-1638) adopted the Italian Mannerist style. In the seventeenth century a group of painters in Utrecht were inspired by Caravaggio’s experiments with dramatic lighting effects and others fantasised about the beautiful Mediterranean landscape.

Holland Art Cities This exhibition is part of the official programme of Holland Art Cities 2009-2010. This festival pools the resources of ten major museums in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht to present an unprecedented wealth of art treasures. During Holland Art Cities, two Amsterdam museums – the Hermitage Amsterdam and the Stedelijk Museum – will celebrate their (re)openings. The exhibitions and displays that make up Holland Art Cities are divided into three themes: International Influences; Young: Modern and Contemporary Art and Design; and Dutch Masters.

The Turing Foundation is main sponsor of this exhibition.

Scorel's Glory
How a Utrecht-based painter brought the Renaissance to the North
Jan van Scorel