In the exhibition Barbizon of the North - The Discovery of the Drenthe Landscape 1850-1950, the Drents Museum presents work by great artists who captured on canvas Drenthe's unique qualities. Works of art by Israëls, Mesdag, and Van Gogh, among others, spotlight Drenthe’s singularities. For this exhibition the museum partnered with Stichting Het Drentse Landschap. Barbizon of the North will run from 24 November 2019 to 22 March 2020.
Drenthe is known for its beautiful nature and friendly people, which draw many tourists to this province every year. This image of Drenthe arose in the 19th century, when – armed with their pencils, tubes of paint, and easels – the first artists discovered Drenthe’s wild, but above all ravishing landscape.
The beauty of Drenthe
In the exhibition Barbizon of the North you virtually walk through the Drenthe countryside around 1900 and discover all kinds of special places: magnificent heaths, megalithic tombs, countless fields, and of course picturesque villages. Paintings, prints, and drawings by leading artists are presented in combination with previously unseen gems from the Drents Museum’s rich collection. The exhibition thus features a wide diversity of works that together showcase Drenthe’s unique character.
The paint tube was invented around 1840, making it much easier for artists to actually paint outdoors. The village of Barbizon in France was the first place where artists gathered in the 19th century to paint nature, mostly en plein air. With swift strokes of the brush they captured the local peasants at work, the clouds, and the unvarnished nature. In the Netherlands, Drenthe played the same role as Barbizon, with artists' villages such as Zweeloo, Rolde, and Vries as meeting places.
The Drenthe landscape
Barbizon of the North is a special joint effort between the Drents Museum and Stichting Het Drentse Landschap. Since Van Gogh's time, the Drenthe landscape has been subject to constant change. The advent of artificial fertiliser created a new economy that displaced small-scale agriculture. Economic growth meant that increasingly more space had to be sacrificed. The first nature organisations were established around that time. In Drenthe this was Het Drentse Landschap in 1934. The foundation’s mission was to safeguard the last areas of untouched nature from destruction, which it is still doing 85 years later. Drenthe boasts beautiful villages, countryside, and nature reserves, which however also face numerous threats. This is why it is crucial that Het Drentse Landschap continues working to ensure that our descendants can also enjoy this province’s nature.
The exhibition Barbizon of the North is accompanied by a catalogue of the same name, published by WBOOKS (Zwolle). The book costs € 22.95 and is available in the museum shop. It is based on the previously published book De schilders van Drenthe (The painters of Drenthe).
Click on the press photographs to enlarge them.
Captions (from left to right and top to bottom):
- Julius van de Sande Bakhuyzen (1835-1925), Cow Herder Resting on the Bank of a Stream Bordered by Trees, undated, oil on canvas, Drents Museum, gift of the Stichting Vrienden van het Drents Museum
- Willem Roelofs (1822-1897), The Dolmen of Tynaarlo, 1861, oil on canvas, 92 x 37 cm, Drents Museum, on long-term loan from the Kunstmuseum Den Haag
- Jozef Israëls (1824-1911), The Drenthe Madonna, 1893, oil on canvas, 142 x 109 cm, Drents Museum, gift of the Stichting Vrienden van het Drents Museum
- Max Liebermann (1847-1935), Preparatory Study for Bleaching Ground in Zweeloo, 1882, oil on paper on panel, 17 x 35 cm, Drents Museum, gift of the Stichting Vrienden van het Drents Museum and the Vereniging Rembrandt