September 28, 2023


Make Some Fun

BAROQUE – Out of Darkness

4 min read

This summer time, SMK – Nationwide Gallery of Denmark presents a significant exhibition on Baroque artwork, unpacking the historical past of this time of turmoil in seventeenth-century Western Europe. A number of of the displays have been introduced out of storage particularly for this occasion: now, after a number of years of conservation work, they’re on public show once more for the primary time in generations.

Drama and draperies. Theatre and the Thirty Years’ Warfare. Sensuality and powerful feelings. For the primary time ever, SMK presents a complete exhibition particularly concerning the Baroque.

Setting the temper with draped curtains and Baroque music, the present presents greater than eighty works by European artists resembling Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens and Margareta Haverman. All displays are a part of SMK’s wealthy assortment of European artwork from the seventeenth century, and plenty of of them have been introduced out from the museum’s storage or introduced again from Danish castles the place they’ve been saved for generations. After in depth restoration work, they’re now on public show for the primary time in over 100 years, serving to to shed new mild on the interval.

Karel Du Jardin, Boy Blowing Cleaning soap Bubbles. Allegory on the Transitoriness and the Brevity of Life, 1663

The exhibition BAROQUE – Out of Darkness focuses on an exuberant and turbulent time. By means of work, works on paper and plaster casts, guests will see the Baroque unfold as an age of free-thinking philosophers, alchemy, religion and superstition, witch hunts, struggle, capitalism and local weather challenges

Life is brief, demise is close to

Baroque-era Europe was a time of many crises, besides the bourgeoisie and the center class flourished. With their larger prosperity got here a larger demand for artwork – particularly artwork that addressed the viewer immediately. Artwork needed to converse to the viewer’s feelings, mind and ethical sense, and the aim of artwork was not solely to thrill, transfer and captivate, but in addition to show and even convert.

Through the interval, the thought of life as a theatre was broadly cultivated. We human beings had been seen as actors on the nice stage of the world, and our foremost and noblest job in life was to play the half we had been assigned. Our time on earth was thought-about fleeting: one of many basic concepts of the Baroque was that life is brief and demise is ever close to.

Earlier than and after conservation. Pieter van der Willigen created Vanitas Nonetheless Life in 1670, and the following 350 years had settled on the scene like a shadow earlier than the SMK conservators introduced the work again to its authentic look.

In artwork, such pondering discovered expression in so-called vanitas symbols: preparations of flowers and fruit, hourglasses, skulls, cleaning soap bubbles and extinguished candles. These motifs served to remind the viewer of the transience of life.

Drama and symbolism

Baroque artists had a penchant for the theatrical and the dramatic. They labored with contrasts between mild and darkish, life and demise, and Baroque photos are filled with symbolism.

Rembrandt performed with numerous facial expressions in his small self-portraits, taking over the function of an actor to specific totally different feelings. / Rembrandt van Rijn, Rembrandt in a cap, open mouthed and staring, 1630

The exhibition and the accompanying e book houses in on the various indicators and symbols typical of the period. By means of shut readings of particular person artworks, audiences are introduced with totally different interpretations of the varied scenes and motifs. By unfolding the worldview, tradition and pondering of the Baroque, the exhibition additionally makes clear how the interval has many similarities with our current time: from depictions of the horrors of struggle and a pervasive darkish realism to the cultivation of all issues staged and a permanent fascination with nature, concurrently seen as threatening and fragile.

Moreover, the exhibition delves into among the many technical improvements that arrived in the course of the interval and takes a take a look at the inventive units utilized in Baroque portray. For instance, some artists started to color on canvas slightly than picket panels, and one of many attribute methods of the age was the so-called chiaroscuro approach, the place a very powerful components had been emphasised by theatrical lighting, leaving different elements in shade. In that manner, the narratives emerged out of a deep darkness.


To coincide with the exhibition, SMK publishes a richly illustrated artwork e book that allows you to immerse your self in SMK’s Baroque work and browse way more concerning the interval, the artworks and the artists behind them.

The authors are:

  • Mikkel Bogh, former director of SMK
  • Eva de la Fuente Pedersen, curator and senior researcher at SMK
  • Anne Haack Christensen, conservator in command of analysis at SMK
  • Troels Filtenborg, senior conservator and senior researcher at SMK

Baroque – Seventeenth-century artwork within the SMK collections will likely be printed on 22 Could 2023. 

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