Adam Elsheimer Devil in the Detail 20 September - 3 December 2006
Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610) was one of the most famous artists of his day and his output played a crucial part in the formation of three of the most important artists in the seventeenth century - Rubens, Rembrandt and Claude Lorrain. He died at 32 and only 34 of his pictures survive. This exhibition brings together 30 of his paintings and will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see his works under one roof.
Elsheimer was born in Germany but worked mostly in Italy exerting a profound influence on his successors. Elsheimer is one of the most subtle, the most original and the most influential painters in the history of art. Elsheimer was a miniaturist and a meticulous worker: his largest painting is just two feet high; his smallest a mere three inches.
Like Dürer before him, Elsheimer was inspired by the brilliant colour and exotic costumes seen in Venetian painting. In Rome, Elsheimer was exposed to the stark realism and dramatic lighting of Caravaggio and to Flemish artists, who specialised in small-scale landscapes, sometimes including religious or mythological narratives.
Throughout his life Elsheimer worked on copper. This not only allowed him to paint with absolute precision, but also gives his scenes an uncanny luminosity as the light reflects off the metal ground and makes the painting literally glow. He created certain effects so vividly that his works set a standard for landscape painters for at least a hundred years.
On hearing of Elsheimer's early death Rubens wrote 'Surely, after such a loss our entire profession ought to clothe itself in mourning. We will not easily succeed in replacing him; in my opinion he had no equal in small figures, in landscapes, and in many other subjects'. This exhibition is a unique opportunity to rediscover this painter 'without equal'.
The catalogue, Adam Elsheimer 1578-1610, is edited by Michael Maek-Gérard, curator at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, and published by Paul Holberton. It is the first book on Elsheimer for many years and includes much new research.
Dulwich is the third venue for this exhibition, which is the first ever Adam Elsheimer show in Britain. It starts at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt, 17 March to 5 June 2006 and then goes to the National Gallery of Scotland, 23 June to 3 September 2006, before it comes to Dulwich.
Honorary Patron of the Exhibition: His Excellency Mr Wolfgang Ischinger Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The show has been made possible by the American Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery through the generosity of the Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation.
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