The touring exhibition Pleasure and Piety, showing paintings by Dutch artist Joachim Wtewael (1566–1638), has achieved great success in the United States, already receiving as many as 105,000 visitors.
The showing was hosted at the Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art until 4th October before proceeding to The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where high levels of interest are also expected. The exhibition, which received a glowing review in The New York Times, is a collaboration between Utrecht’s Centraal Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Arts, led by curators Liesbeth M. Helmus, Anne W. Lowenthal, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. and James Clifton.
Love and Lust
Wtewael was a painter, successful flax merchant and town councillor of Utrecht. The exhibition carries the Dutch title Liefde & Lust and shows how the artist plays with the themes of love and lust. A self-portrait of Wtewael, holding a brush loaded with red paint, reveals his fascination with danger, lust and love.
Joachim Wtewael (1566-1638), Mars, Venus and Cupid, (detail), ca. 1610, P. and N. de Boer Foundation, Amsterdam.
His works are both visually stimulating and intellectually challenging, holding considerable historical importance as examples of Dutch Mannerism, a style characterised by extreme idealisation of nature, with naked figures in elaborate poses and mythological, often erotic scenes. The open eroticism of the paintings often led to censorship in the past.
Pleasure and Piety will be on show from 1 November 2015 to 31 January 2016 at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
Top picture: Joachim Wtewael (1566-1638), Self-Potrait, (detail), 1601, Centraal Museum, Utrecht.