Institute of Arts Presents the Intriguing Work of Dutch
Master Gerard ter Borch
First exhibition exclusively of Ter Borch’s work to
tour the United States
January 24, 2005 (Detroit)—Between Rembrandt
and Vermeer there was Gerard ter Borch (1617–1681), the
Dutch master who captured intimate moments of everyday life
with elegance and grace. The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)
will present the stunning exhibition Gerard ter Borch, Feb.
27–May 22, 2005. This is the first presentation in North
America exclusively of works by Ter Borch, one of the finest
genre and portrait painters of the 17th-century. Gerard Ter
Borch is comprised of 46 of his best masterpieces that have
been brought together from 29 private and public collections
including the National Gallery in London and the Rijksmuseum,
Amsterdam along with two pieces from the DIA’s renowned
17th-century Dutch collection. The DIA will be the only other
U.S. venue for Gerard ter Borch after its successful run at
the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. This exhibition was
organized by the American Federation of Arts, New York, and
the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
"Many of Gerard ter Borch's paintings depict in a painstakingly
realist technique, social and psychological interactions among
the well-to-do of 17th-century Holland. While some scenes seem
immediately decipherable, the precise meaning of others has
eluded scholars and connoisseurs for the best part of three
centuries," said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. "We
are delighted to present this comprehensive and captivating
array of Ter Borch's paintings, drawn from collections around
the world, to our visitors in Detroit."
Ter Borch’s paintings are varied, and the selection in
this exhibition represents each phase of his career: early paintings
of the 1630s, his mid-career genre pieces; and his portraits,
distinctive for their attention to fabric detail. Among over
20 striking genre paintings in the exhibition, one of Ter Borch’s
most refined and provocative masterpieces is the DIA’s
Lady at Her Toilette, which features a lavishly dressed young
woman, possibly preparing herself for a formal event. Ter Borch
interwove symbolism into each element of the piece: the mirror
is associated with transience; the snuffed out candles imply
love’s passing; and the colors of her gown, blue and white,
signify jealousy and purity. As a result, a painting that seems
to be simple in nature, is thought to convey a woman who is
feeling the anxieties of love.
By the 1640s, Ter Borch’s reputation as an exceptional
portraitist grew, resulting in commissions from upper-class
Dutch citizens. His piece Helena van der Schalcke is considered
one of the 17th-century’s most memorable images of childhood.
The two-year-old Van der Schalcke is dressed in a white bodice
and skirt, with a lace-trimmed apron, and a cap covering her
head. In her right hand, she holds a carnation, which was commonly
associated with images of the Virgin and child. This painting
has frequently been interpreted as a symbol of divine love,
resurrection and hope of eternal innocence.
Later Ter Borch focused on more simple subjects as seen in paintings
such as A Maid Milking a Cow in a Barn and The Grinder’s
Family. These paintings have a sympathetic quality, providing
intimate insight into interactions of everyday life.
Ter Borch was born into a well-to-do family of artists and was
initially trained by his father. He quickly gained notoriety
and eventually studied with reputed artists in many cities in
the Netherlands and around Europe. Ter Borch’s earliest
works depict military life, but his status as a master of 17th-century Dutch painting grew from his acclaimed representations
of poignant genre scenes, which followed common themes of letter
writing, encounters between men and women and family interactions.
Ter Borch had the unique ability to insinuate psychological
responses of lost love, purity and jealousy through his impeccably
detailed gestures, glances and expressions. The nature of what
is actually transpiring in these paintings remains a mystery
forever unsolved. This intimate psychological study set Ter
Borch apart from many of his comparable contemporaries, such
as Johannes Vermeer.
Finally settling in Deventer, The Netherlands to paint society
portraits, Ter Borch married a wealthy widow and joined the
ranks of the city’s ruling elite until he died at age
Gerard ter Borch, the 240-page exhibition catalog, is the first
major English-language publication on the artist and is a significant
contribution to the study of 17th-century Dutch painting. Published
by the American Federation of Arts and the National Gallery
of Art in association with Yale University Press, the catalog
includes full-color reproductions and entries for each of the
paintings in the exhibition. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., National
Gallery of Art’s curator of northern baroque painting
and curator of this exhibition, wrote the majority of the entries,
with contributions from Ter Borch expert Alison McNeil Kettering,
professor of art history at Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.;
Marjorie E. Wieseman, Cincinnati Art Museum curator of European
painting and sculpture and Arie Wallert, curator at the Rijksmuseum,
Amsterdam. The catalog is available in the DIA’s museum
shop for $55 in hardcover and $35 in softcover.
In Detroit, Gerard ter Borch is organized by George Keyes, DIA
chief curator and curator of European paintings. The National
Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (Nov. 7, 2004–Jan.
30, 2005) is the only other U.S. venue for this exhibition.
Following Detroit, a small selection of paintings will be shown
at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (June 9–Sept. 4, 2005).
The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts,
New York, and the National Gallery of Art and supported by an
indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The catalog for this exhibition was made possible, in part,
by grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and Furthermore:
a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund. Gerard ter Borch: A Resource
for Educators was supported, in part, by The Netherland-America
Foundation. Additional support was provided by the National
Patrons of the AFA.
Tickets are: $12 for adults, $6 for ages 5–17, $10 for
groups of 20+, and free for DIA members. Tickets include an
Acoustiguide audio tour and museum admission. Sales begin Feb.
27 for the general public, Jan. 25 for DIA members and groups.
To order, visit the DIA Box Office in the Woodward lobby of
the museum, or log on to www.dia.org.
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Programs are made possible with support
from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and
the City of Detroit.
Located in the heart of Detroit's Cultural Center, the DIA is
owned by the City of Detroit and is recognized as one of the
country's premier art museums. From the first van Gogh to enter
a U.S. museum (Self Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned
Detroit Industry murals, the DIA's collection reveals the scope
and depth of human experience, imagination and emotion.
Museum hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays,
10 a.m.–9 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–-5 p.m. Saturdays
Admission is a donation. We recommend $4 for adults and $1 for
children. DIA members are admitted free. For membership information
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