Adriaen Coorte, Still Life with a Bundle of Asparagus, Red Cherries and a Butterfly, c. 1693 – 1695. Oil on paper on wood, 25.6 x 19.8 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich

ZURICH - From 28 August to 29 November 2015, the Kunsthaus Zürich presents an exhibition combining 40 works of 17th-century Dutch painting from a private Zurich collection with selected pieces from its own important holdings: cheerful genre scenes, magnificent still lifes and masterfully composed landscapes by Jan Brueghel the Elder, Hendrick Avercamp, Adriaen Coorte, Jan van Goyen, Aert van der Neer, David Teniers and many others.


Hendrick Avercamp, Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters, early 17th c. Oil on copper, 20 x 26 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich

The small-format cabinet pieces that are being loaned to the Kunsthaus Zürich by a Zurich-based private collector have rarely been seen before, and further enhance the museum’s already impressive collection of Dutch paintings, comprising works from the renowned Koetser and Ruzicka foundations. The masterful compositions are of exquisite quality and remarkable in their wealth of detail, conveying the allure of an era of burgeoning self-assurance among Dutch artists: the Golden Age – a major epoch in European art history.


Jan Brueghel the Elder, Village Entrance with Windmill, 1603-1605. Oil on copper, 18 x 25.4 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich


With the exception of a few works from the Catholic south of the Netherlands, secular art dominates: owing in part to the influence of Calvinism in the north of the country, Hendrick Avercamp, Adriaen Coorte, Jan van Goyen, Aert van der Neer and other contemporaries (as well as Jan Brueghel the Elder, who was also highly influential in the field of landscape) drew their motifs from outside the sphere of religion. Within Dutch art there was a high degree of specialization, with landscapes, still lifes and seascapes alongside portraits and genre scenes. The mostly cheerful genre scenes focus on the everyday lives of the predominantly rural population. Peasants by the stove, families enjoying themselves on the ice, ships on calm seas, still lifes charged with symbolism and representational aspiration featuring flowers, fruit and expensive accoutrements: they show a Holland celebrating itself as a trading power that is as anchored as it is open to the world. From the early 1670s the military defeats began to mount and the Golden Age drew to a close. Indeed, the most recent picture acquired by the collector dates from around 1700.


Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Wealthy Man Strewing Roses (part of a series of 4 proverbs), 1596. Oil on wood, 8.5 cm diameter. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich


The collector’s exacting standards are also reflected in the fact that almost exclusively, he acquired pictures which were signed: for signatures reflected their creators’ growing awareness of a market that extended beyond princely courts to encompass the up-and-coming bourgeoisie. Collection curator Philippe Büttner, who is also curating the exhibition, has added some works from the Kunsthaus collection to those from the private collector. The 50 paintings find a temporary home in the Old Master section of the Kunsthaus, which dates from 1910.


Jan van Goyen, Fishing Boats at Dusk, 1655-56. Oil on oak, 33 x 41 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich


It is noteworthy that Swiss collectors did not discover the Old Masters until late on. At the start of the 20th century, they were still unable to compete with the prices being paid by British and American enthusiasts. Major collections were brought to Switzerland by foreigners. In the publication accompanying the exhibition Lukas Gloor, Director of the Foundation E.G. Bührle Collection, describes the various types of Old Master collectors, while an introductory text by the lender brings things up to date. Is he a collector of the modern type? He politely declines to be named; but he allows the public to share the personal motivations for his collecting.


Jan van Kessel the Elder, Flowers in a Glass Vase with the Development of a Silkworm, c. 1660. Oil on oak, 40.3 x 29.5 cm. Private collection© 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich

The catalogue contains a description of each individual work and places it in its art-historical context. Each is also illustrated, along with numerous detail images to enhance appreciation of the works on display. The exhibition is an opportunity to experience parts of the private collection in context with works from the Kunsthaus, thereby offering an in-depth insight into the works of some central artists, including Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jan van Goyen, and revealing the synergies between the collection presented here and that of the Kunsthaus. Establishing a close relationship between artist, collector, museum and viewer creates added value for the audience, once again highlighting the benefits of interweaving private and museum holdings.


Isaack Luttichuys, Portrait of a Laughing Boy, 1648. Oil on wood, 34 x 27.5 cm. Private collection  © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich

Supported by the Truus and Gerrit van Riemsdijk Stiftung and the Athene Stiftung.

Kunsthaus Zürich, Heimplatz 1, CH–8001 Zurich, tel. +41 (0)44 253 84 84, Fri-Sun/Tues 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Wed, Thurs 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.


Aert van der Neer, Winter Landscape with Fire, c. 1660. Oil on wood, 34 x 40.3 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich


Laurence Neter, Interior with Lute-Player, 1631. Oil on wood, 35.5 x 26.5 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich.


Peter Snijers, Still Life with Fruit, early 18th c. Oil on copper, 26.7 x 20.4 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich.


David Teniers the Younger, Interior with Farmers at an Inn Fire, c. 1645 – 1650. Oil on wood, 22.8 x 16.5 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich.


Jan Jansz. van de Velde, Still Life with Wine Glass, Oysters and Chestnuts, 1662. Oi on oak, 29.6 x 24.9 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich.


Jacob van Walscapelle, Still Life with Fruit, late 17th c. Oil on wood, 23.5 x 30 cm. Private collection © 2015 Kunsthaus Zürich.