The Birth of the Art Market. Rembrandt, Ruisdael, van Goyen and the Artists of the Dutch Golden Age

23 September 2017 to 7 January 2018

The Bucerius Kunst Forum presents the first large-scale exhibition devoted to the birth of the art market in the Golden Age of the Netherlands. Tracing the careers of artists such as Rembrandt, Ruisdael, van Goyen and many others, the exhibition explores how the transformation of Dutch society during the seventeenth century brought forth a new art market, with artworks tailored to its demands. Artists, art dealers and their workshops had to keep pace with the evolving market situation, leading to art prices ranging from just a few Dutch guilders to astronomical sums. The Birth of the Art Market: Rembrandt, Ruisdael, van Goyen and the Artists of the Dutch Golden Age is the first exhibition curated  by Prof. Dr. Franz Wilhelm Kaiser in his new role as artistic director of the Bucerius Kunst Forum.

In the seventeenth century, the importance of the aristocracy had already dwindled, and the Calvinist reformed church in the Netherlands called for plain, unadorned church buildings. While the traditional art patrons thus largely fell away, an expanding middle class was for the first time able to afford oil paintings. An extraordinarily diverse group of educated and affluent members of society offered fertile ground for an art market whose commercialization would have a greater impact on painting techniques, genres and themes than the original noble and clerical clients had ever had. Artists began to reposition themselves and to paint pictures for an anonymous market rather than on commission, without knowing in advance the wishes of the prospective buyers.

The exhibition features master works on loan from internationally renowned museums and collections, including the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; National Portrait Gallery, London; Dresden State Art Collections, Old Masters Picture Gallery; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie; Hamburger Kunsthalle; Bavarian State Painting Collections, Alte Pinakothek; State Museum of Schwerin/ Ludwigslust/ Güstrow; Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister; The Kremer Collection, Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts; SØR Rusche Collection, Oelde/ Berlin; National Museum in Warsaw; Liechtenstein, The Princely Collections, Vaduz/ Vienna; and other museums and private collections.

The exhibition is supported by Latham & Watkins and the Bucerius Kunst Club.