The Jan Lievens exhibit closed this afternoon at the National Gallery, moving on to Milwaukee. If you did not get a chance to see it, and if you are going to be in Milwaukee…….
Lievens was a 17th century Dutch artist of tremendous talent. He was a close friend of Rembrandt; in fact, Rembrandt may have learned from him. He started as a child prodigy and painted for approximately sixty years. He was extremely well known during his lifetime, and not only in his home country.
But then something happened. He was pretty much forgotten; his reputation was clearly overshadowed by others. But his paintings and graphics did not disappear, and he has been “rediscovered” and this wonderful exhibit collected his works from far and near to display them (for the first time together?).
Most of the works on display are oils, although there are many pen and ink, and chalk, drawings. He painted some very large canvasses (and he painted murals in public buildings and churches which cannot be transported for an exhibition); the large canvasses tend to portray religious, or allegorical, themes. He was also a great portrait artist, painting nobility, men on the street, and himself. He produced landscapes, and even a few still lifes.
He paints with detail, with great use of color and light, with perception, with balance and structure, and with clear meaning. Because I cannot possibly convey to you the breadth and excellence of his work, I suggest that you google him, and look at the images that turn up, or that you go to http://www.nga.gov, and click on “exhibitions” and follow the clues.