European Art: 17th-18th Centuries

The advent of the 17th century is heralded by the Museum’s early Baroque paintings from Italy and Spain, and represented by such noted artists as Guido Reni, Guercino, Murillo and Zurbarán, the latter’s Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose from 1633 being one of the Museum’s most revered paintings. The Northern Baroque collection is profoundly expressed in the works of Peter Paul Rubens, with portraits and mystical subjects that embody this Flemish painter’s deep alliance with the church. The remarkable group of 17th-century Dutch genre, portrait and landscape paintings is crowned with three portraits by Rembrandt, one of which, his Portrait of a Boy, was once thought to depict the artist’s son Titus. Capping off the century are Flemish and German still lifes, and religious landscapes by the French masters Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin.

The Museum’s holdings from the 18th century are as varied in subject and origin, with portraits by Largillière and still lifes by Chardin providing a fluid transition from the 17th century to a livelier, more frivolous rococo style. The French component of the collection contains paintings by Watteau, Fragonard and Boucher, while Italy is represented with capriccios and historic glimpses into the daily life of Rome and Venice with works by Longhi, Pannini, Guardi, and Canaletto. Tiepolo’s mid-century swooping figures and luminous vistas into mythological realms prepare us for Clodion’s ultimate statement in terracotta, Bacchante Supported by Bacchus and a Faun, executed in 1795, and inclines us toward the next generation of artists, such as Vigée-Lebrun, Prud’hon and Ingres.