The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College (Brighton, Massachusetts)
September 10 – December 10, 2017
|Fernand Khnopff (1858–1921), Memory of Bruges. The Entrance of the Beguinage, 1904, Hearn Family Trust.|
Since the Renaissance, art in the region of Belgium and the nearby Netherlands has been known for innovations in realistic representation of visual appearances and for an extraordinary fluency in symbolism. The development of landscape as an independent genre was fostered by new market forces and artistic concerns in Belgium in the sixteenth century, and landscape emerged as a major focus for nineteenth-century realist and symbolist artists. Nature’s Mirror: Reality and Symbol in Belgian Landscape traces these landmark developments with a rich array of seldom-seen works.
Illustrating the birth of landscape art, Nature’s Mirror opens with important prints and drawings by artists like Pieter Bruegel, Hieronymus Cock, Paul Brill, and Roelandt Savery. The exhibition then explores the evolving dialogue between subjective experience and the external world by featuring major modern works by artists from the School of Tervuren and symbolists including Fernand Khnopff and William Degouve de Nuncques.
Displaying more than 120 works, many from the leading private collection of Belgian art in America, the Hearn Family Trust, Nature’s Mirror examines the wealth of artistic expression that bloomed in the regions of Belgium in an unprecedented fashion.
Organized by the McMullen Museum, Nature’s Mirror has been curated by Jeffery Howe and underwritten by Boston College with major support from the Patrons of the McMullen Museum and Mary Ann and Vincent Q. Giffuni.
Edited by Howe, Nature’s Mirror is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by American and Belgian specialists Anne Adriaens-Pannier, Albert Alhadeff, Alison Hokanson, Howe, Catherine Labio, and Dominique Marechal. They examine artists such as Fernand Khnopff, Henri De Braekeleer, and Léon Spilliaert within the regional contexts that influenced them, the transition of Belgian realism to symbolism, George Minne’s poetic illustrations, and themes of industrialization and labor. Nature’s Mirror presents more than 120 paintings, prints, and drawings in chronological order, from the Renaissance through the First World War, illuminating the evolution of Belgian art in this fruitful period.