Friday, July 8, 2011

Dutch and Flemish masterpieces at the Legion of Honor

 Young Girl in Profile, 1631-2. Jan Lievens
Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo began collecting horse carriages, until they completely filled their New Hampshire barn. So they switched to horse and sporting prints, until about two decades ago, when Peter Sutton, then curator of European painting at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, encouraged them to get into Dutch and Flemish art. It seemed a natural fit for the Marblehead couple -- she a native of Belgium, he a Dutch-born investor and developer who had co-founded the Boston investment firm Grantham, Mayo & Van Otterloo in 1977.

The result is the current exhibit at the Legion of Honor, nearly seventy paintings  from the 17th century.  It's the most astonishing show that I've seen in San Francisco in a long time - and that includes the current Picasso show at the De Young and the Stein collection at SF MOMA (with a few exceptions for Matisse). 

Gerrit Dou (1613–1675), Sleeping Dog (detail), 1650. Oil on panel, 6 ½ x 8 ½ inches. The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection. Image courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The show comes to SF from the Peabody Museum in Salem where it was originally organized in conjunction with the Mauritshuis. Dr. Frederik J. Duparc was the guest curator, and Karina Corrigan, the H. A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art at Peabody Essex, was the coordinating curator.  The Legion's curator of European art has followed in their footsteps, hanging a show where every painting is in superb condition with an impeccable provenance.

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