PAINTINGS BY REMBRANDT’S WORKSHOP AND TENIERS GO ON DISPLAY
Dutch and Flemish masterpieces by some of the foremost artists of the 17th century are on display at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum this summer.
A pair of portraits by Rembrandt’s workshop and two paintings by David Teniers the Younger, generously lent by His Grace the Duke of Westminster and the Trustees of the Grosvenor Estate, are now on display until 10 September.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) was the best known and most influential Dutch artist of the 17th century and one of the supreme geniuses in the history of art. Born in Leiden, and trained as a painter there and in Amsterdam, he subsequently worked in his home town from about 1624. In 1631/2 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam and rapidly became the city’s leading portraitist for the next decade. His portraits from this period, often in pairs, employ a brilliant technique and convey a sense of physical presence: the paintings on loan to the museum are highly characteristic of Rembrandt’s art at this time. His business declined after the death of his wife Saskia in 1642, but his later works are deeper in emotional content and psychological penetration.
‘A Man with a Hawk’ and ‘A Lady with a Fan’, both signed by Rembrandt and dated 1643, had long been considered authentic Rembrandts. However, some experts now believe that they were painted in Rembrandt’s workshop under his direct supervision, and that the man’s clothing may be by his pupil Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680). The workshop produced pictures in the master’s style that were not necessarily from his own hand, but had been executed by assistants and were sometimes, as with this pair, signed by Rembrandt.
David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690), who worked in Antwerp and Brussels as Court Painter to the Governor of the Southern Netherlands, is best known for his unidealised scenes of peasant life. ‘Saying Grace before a Meal’ depicts a well-off farming family in a well-equipped interior, presenting an image of modest rural wealth and celebrating the virtues of the peasantry, on whom the economic welfare of the people depended. ‘Interior of a Tavern’ shows peasants drinking and smoking. Although denounced as an evil by both Church and State, smoking was very popular at all levels of society, and the picture offers a sympathetic image of camaraderie rather than a moralising one of condemnation.
These paintings are part of a programme of loans to the museum from the Duke of Westminster’s collection, which was mostly acquired by the 1st and 2nd Earls Grosvenor in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Councillor Louise Gittins, Deputy Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Culture, Health and Wellbeing, said: “We are deeply grateful to His Grace and his Trustees for the loan of these wonderful paintings, which will enable them to be seen and enjoyed by the Grosvenor Museum’s many visitors this summer.”
The museum is named after Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster, who donated a portion of the site in Grosvenor Street and part of the building costs, the rest being met by a public appeal.
The Grosvenor Museum is open Monday – Saturday 10.30-5 and Sunday 1-4, admission free, donations welcome.
Peter Boughton FSA
Keeper of Art
Cheshire West and Chester Council
Images are available from the Collections Manager, Bridgeman Art Library, 17-19 Garway Road, London, W2 4PH, telephone 020 7908 1630, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org