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: The Berlin Masterpieces and Some Paintings in the Institute


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Through the current exhibition of Berlin Masterpieces visitors to the museum may, for the next ten days, become acquainted with the work of many great painters who have hitherto been entirely unknown to them or who have existed only as names. Others, because they are represented in the Institute's collection, will stand out with special clarity and significance, as the face of a friend stands out in a room full of strangers.With the thought that visitors might welcome the opportunity to comparing our paintings by certain old masters with works by the same artists in the Kaiser-Friedrich collection, a group of paintings by these masters has been installed in a gallery adjoining the exhibition. An examination of them will show that in every instance the Institute's paintings consort harmoniously with their peers from the Berlin Museum. It will also reveal numerous interesting parallels and differences in the work of certain painters and the recurrent popularity of various themes in European painting.The Institute's Patinir, for example, represents the same subject as the Kaiser-Friedrich Patinir: The Rest on the Flight into Egypt. The same general arrangement has been followed in both instances, with the Virgin and Child seated in the foreground of a landscape which recedes in a series of planes into an undefined distance; a landscape in which luminous greens, pale yellows, and silvery greys cast a cool light over a scene based partly on imagination and partly on exaggeration of familiar detail. In connection with the Institute's painting, it will be interesting to compare the Berlin Mourning Magdalen by Quentin Massys with the figure of the Virgin in The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, also from the hand of Massys.No such marked parallel exists between Rembrandt's portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels in the Berlin collection and the Institute's great Lucretia, yet Rembrandt's universal attitude of mind, his profound awareness of the mystery of life, and his special genius for illuminating the human spirit, are powerfully evident in both. The arrangement of the two figures is roughly the same but reversed, and the form of the paintings derives, as always, from Rembrandt's conception of his subject.Similar parallels and differences are to be found in the two Hobbema landscapes, in the Berlin Rubens of The Virgin and Child Enthroned and the Institute's Sketch for the Ceiling of Whitehall Palace, in the de Hooch interiors, in the Berlin Cranach Lucretia and the Minneapolis Cranach Judith, and in many others. Such opportunities for comparison add special interest to the Berlin masterpieces, as does the fact of their spectacular recovery from the Merkers salt mines by the U.S. Army; a circumstance that has insured their preservation as part of the cherished cultural heritage not only of Germany but of the world.Referenced Works of Art
  1. Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels. By Rembrandt, Dutch 1606-1669. Painted c. 1658-59. Collection of the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum
  2. Lucretia. By Rembrandt, Dutch 1606-1669. Painted in 1666. Purchased by the Art Institute in 1934 from the Dunwoody Fund
  3. The Rest of the Flight into Egypt. By Patinir, Flemish, c. 1485-1524. Purchased by the Art Institute from the Dunwoody Fund
  4. The Rest of the Flight Into Egypt. By Patinir, Flemish, c. 1485-1524. Collection of the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin
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Source: "The Berlin Masterpieces and Some Paintings in the Institute," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 37, no. 29 (November, 1948): 155.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009