Boudewijn Bakker - Landscape and World View. From Van Eyck to Rembrandt
Art critics like to emphasize the modern and realist character of seventeenth-century Dutch landscape paintings, but Boudewijn Bakker explicitly distances himself from that interpretation. He points to a long tradition of landscape as a subject in Dutch painting that stretches back to Jan van Eyck’s generation of the early fifteenth century. Bakker’s broad, audacious approach, together with his lucid style and seemingly casual erudition, make this a remarkable and challenging study.
Bakker introduces a range of thinkers and writers, including fifteenth-century monastic scholar Dionysius the Carthusian, sixteenth-century religious reformer John Calvin, geographer Abraham Ortelius and seventeenth-century poet Constantijn Huygens. In their ideas about landscape he identifies a worldview influenced by late-Medieval concepts of God and creation.
The landscape, whether painted or real, once functioned as a storehouse of spiritual and moral messages, and Bakker does not believe this attitude was confined to the Middle Ages. Painters like Pieter Breugel, Rembrandt van Rijn and Jacob van Ruisdael probably thought far more traditionally than we tend to assume, which has important implications for the interpretation of their art, as Bakker illustrates in his highly acclaimed final chapter on Rembrandt as a landscape painter.
Boudewijn Bakker is an acknowledged expert on the history of landscape in the Dutch Golden Age. He has written several authoritative studies, including one on Rembrandt’s landscape drawings. He read history and art history at the University of Amsterdam and gained his doctorate cum laude on the subject dealt with in this book.
- ‘I regard Landscape and World View by Boudewijn Bakker as one of the most important and stimulating books of recent years in the field of Dutch art. Many readers will readily be swept along both by Bakker’s argument and by the elegance of his writing. Eddy de Jongh, Emeritus Professor at the University of Utrecht