Gabriel Metsu
Woman Reading a Book by a Window

c. 1653–54 
Oil on canvas
105 x 90.7 cm (41.34 x 35.71 in.)
The Leiden Collection, New York

An Inner World

Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting

March 5–October 1, 2017

Museum Building
An Inner World features seven exceptional genre paintings by Dutch artists working in or near the city of Leiden in the seventeenth century. Genre paintings, or scenes that take everyday life as their subject matter, flourished in the Dutch Republic in this period. Explored through the theme of an inner world, the works in this focused exhibition represent figures in interior spaces and individuals in moments of study, contemplation, and quiet exchange. Paintings by Gerrit Dou (1613–1675), Gabriel Metsu (1629–1667), Domenicus van Tol (c. 1635–1676), Willem van Mieris (1662–1747), and Jacob van Toorenvliet (1640–1719) demonstrate the artists’ sustained interest in the illusionism of space, candlelight, and painted surfaces. By encouraging a focused—and intimate—experience, this exhibition presents new ways of looking at tradition and innovation in genre painting in Leiden.
 
In the seventeenth century, the city of Leiden became known as a center of fijnschilders, or fine painters, as a result of the innovations in subject matter and technique developed by Gerrit Dou. One of the most admired and successful artists in Holland, Dou established a manner of “fine” painting in small-scale, meticulously rendered works, often depicting figures set in an illusionistic stone niche. Included in this exhibition is the Clark’s newly restored Woman at a Window (c. 1655), which displays Dou’s precise brushwork, evocative use of light and shadow, and brilliant handling of different surface textures. An Inner World is the first exhibition to display the Clark’s painting with genre scenes by Dou’s contemporaries, presenting the opportunity to consider how artists responded to and modified Dou’s themes and painting style. 
 
An Inner World brings together paintings from the Clark’s collection and The Leiden Collection, a private collection in New York. Installed in an intimate gallery within the Clark’s permanent collection galleries, it complements and enhances the Clark’s sixteenth- and seventeenth-century cabinet paintings by Dutch, Flemish, and Italian artists.
 
About The Leiden Collection
Founded by Thomas Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan, The Leiden Collection is comprised of more than 200 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. The Collection features unique rarities by some of the greatest artistic innovators of the seventeenth century, including Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen, along with their peers, competitors, and followers. Named for Rembrandt’s birthplace, The Leiden Collection is highlighted by ten Rembrandt paintings that span his career, including the earliest of his known works, the Allegory of the Senses. In addition to the ten Rembrandts, whose number matches or exceeds all but a few national museums, the Collection encompasses the broadest range of masterworks of his many pupils, including Carel Fabritius, Ferdinand Bol, Govert Flinck, Gerrit Dou, Aert De Gelder, Jan Lievens (Rembrandt’s studio mate), and Pieter Lastman (their mutual teacher). 
 
In sum, the Collection features the largest and most extensive representation of Rembrandt and the Rembrandt School in private hands. By focusing on portraits, history paintings, and genre scenes, the artwork in the Collection brings the everyday world of the 1600s to life. Since its creation, The Leiden Collection has prided itself on sharing its artworks with museums across the globe for long-term loans and special exhibitions and, in doing so, has become the art world’s singular “lending library” of seventeenth-century art. In early 2017, The Leiden Collection will debut its online scholarly catalogue, which provides an overview of the collection and scholarly essays and entries of its paintings and drawings. 

An Inner World is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.