Offering a corrective to the common scholarly characterization of seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painting as modern, realistic and secularized, Boudewijn Bakker here explores the long history and purpose of landscape in Netherlandish painting. In Bakker's view, early Netherlandish as well as seventeenth-century Dutch painting can be understood only in the context of the intellectual climate of the day. Concentrating on landscape painting as the careful depiction of the visible world, Bakker's analysis takes in the thought of figures seldom consulted by traditional art historians, such as the fifteenth-century philosopher Dionysius the Carthusian, the sixteenth-century religious reformer John Calvin, the geographer Abraham Ortelius and the seventeenth-century poet Constantijn Huygens. Probing their conception of nature as 'the first Book of God' and art as its representation, Bakker identifies a world view that has its roots in the traditional Christian perceptions of God and creation. Landscape and Religion from Van Eyck to Rembrandt imposes a new layer of interpretation on the richly varied landscapes of the great masters. In so doing it adds a new dimension to the insights offered by modern art-historical research. Further, Bakker's explorations of early modern art and literature provide essential background for any student of European intellectual history.
Boudewijn Bakker is head curator at the Amsterdam City Archives and a senior researcher at the Centre for the Study of the Dutch Golden Age at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Contents: Preface; Introduction; The early landscape: background or subject?; The art of painting and the cosmos; The visible world: from semblance to reality; The beauty of the world as a path to God; The landscape of the mind: the world as allegory; Bosch, Patinir and Bles: worlds of allegory; The painter as geographer: cartographic and topographical landscapes; Meanings old and new: Bruegel, Ortelius and Calvin; A painter writing on landscape painting: Karel van Mander; The Dutch landscape as an art-historical problem; Didactic landscapes: Zacharias Heyns and Claes Jansz Visscher; Two poets and the theory of landscape painting: Huygens and Vondel; The painter and the landscape: Rembrandt van Rijn; Bibliography; Indexes.