by Michiel Jonker and Ellinoor Bergvelt. D Giles, July 2016. 352 p. ill. ISBN 9781907804748 (cl.), $79.95.
Reviewed November 2016
The Dulwich Picture Gallery, founded in London in 1811 and opened as a museum six years later, maintains one of the world’s most important collections of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Dutch and Flemish art. Dutch and Flemish Paintings: Dulwich Picture Gallery is the first comprehensive catalog to be published on this outstanding collection, which includes major works by Aelbert Cuyp, Anthony van Dyck, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob van Ruisdael, David Teniers, Philips Wouwerman, and others.
Featuring entries for 228 paintings, the book was researched and written by two leading Dutch scholars, Dr. Ellinoor Bergvelt, visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam and guest curator at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the late Michiel Jonker, formerly Head of Collections at Mauritshuis, The Hague. The book is part of a larger effort by the Dulwich Picture Gallery to publish catalogs over the next few years on their various collections. All these volumes, including the current catalog, are intended to expand upon material presented in Richard Beresford’s Dulwich Picture Gallery: Complete Illustrated Catalogue, published in 1998.
The highly informative introductory essay by Bergvelt summarizes the development of the museum’s Dutch and Flemish collection. A significant number of these paintings were brought together by Noel Desenfrans and Sir Francis Bourgeois in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, originally to develop a collection for a national museum in Poland. A large portion of the collection remained in the possession of Desenfrans until his death in 1807, at which time it was passed on to Bourgeois, who in turn bequeathed the paintings to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 1811.
The attractively designed catalog is organized alphabetically by artist. A short biographical note is included for each artist and each entry includes the work’s title, date (when known), inscriptions (if any), medium, and dimensions, followed by background information on the painting and additional details organized under subheadings for provenance, references, exhibitions, and technical notes. The information presented under technical notes is of particular interest and is rarely seen in collection catalogs of this type. Endnotes are included after an entry or entries for each artist. The catalog concludes with an extensive bibliography and a detailed index.
All the illustrations in the catalog are in color and several of these are presented as full-page images. The printing quality of the volume is excellent, as is the binding. The introduction and catalog entries are scholarly and concise, but also accessible to the general reader. The catalog is highly recommended for art libraries that serve researchers with an interest in Dutch and Flemish seventeenth- and eighteenth-century painting, including the rich collection of the Dulwich Picture Gallery.