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Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered (National Gallery Of Art, Washington) Hardcover – October 28, 2008
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About the Author
Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., is curator of Northern baroque painting at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and professor of art history at the University of Maryland.
Top customer reviews
I have not seen the actual exhibition, but I must admit, the reproductions are not particularly accurate. The colors are not even as luminous as those in the Smithsonian article (March 2009 issue), consequently I can relate to reviewer L. Dereitzes' feelings of disappointment. I was just as disappointed when I discovered a painting by Joachim Patinir (Caronte atravesando la laguna Estigia) at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, then compared it to the reproduction of the same painting in the catalogue. Yet - independently of the fact that art books today seldom reproduce the original with any degree of accuracy - there is a lot more to this volume than the pictures themselves. The main quality is in that it introduces to the present day art world the works of an artist who - although in the same league as his contemporary Rembrandt van Rijn - was, for more than 300 years, practically forgotten. Following his death in 1674, this Bach of the visual arts actually suffered the humiliation of having some of his paintings attributed to Rembrandt and other artists who lived during the same time. Some other paintings were in private collections and again, unknown or forgotten.
Granting the proper credit to an artist who does deserve the credit, and making his works available to the general public (even if not all in perfect reproductions), should be a sufficiently significant accomplishment to justify the 4 stars that I have given to this book.
Besides the painter's works (55 paintings, and more than 75 prints and drawings), the volume includes reproductions by Rembrandt and other contemporary painters, for comparison purposes. Five authors have contributed, which means that much more information is available than we usually find in the average exhibition catalogue. This includes the discussion of the reasons for Lievens' neglect, along with extensive details of his life and patronage, his technique, the portraits - his most common means of expression (although landscapes are prominent as well) - the prints and drawings.
Being able to discover beautiful masterpieces from times gone by is a rare and very exciting experience for any art lover. I thank the editor Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., the three museum directors, the five authors (who are not immediately responsible for the quality of the reproductions) and all the organizers of the exhibition for introducing the painter to us. The book may not be perfect, but it definitely deserves to be in any library that concentrates on the visual artists of the western world.