In summer 2011, M Museum Leuven will present the travelling exhibition Through the Romanticist’s Eyes, with an accompanying catalogue published by Mercatorfonds. More than 70 paintings offer a unique vision of 19th-century Belgian and Dutch Romantic painting. In the fall of 2010, this exhibition was mounted at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

The early nineteenth century was a momentous time: the French Revolution had swept away the secular certainties of the Ancien Régime, and the Napoleonic wars shook all of Europe to its foundations. New social strata the bourgeoisie and the working class began to emerge. Liberalism and the Industrial Revolution took centre stage. In short, society was evolving at a breakneck pace. These changes were particularly spectacular in the artistic world. In reaction to the rationality of the Enlightenment, Romanticism stressed the importance of emotion, passion and mysticism.

Although the Romantic movement arose everywhere across Europe, today its pictorial form is often reduced to a handful of names, such as William Turner, John Constable, Théodore Gericault and Eugène Delacroix. Dutch Romantic painting was progressively eliminated from collective memory. And yet, artists from this little-known school of painting who excelled in technique left small masterpieces behind them, vivid and sublime. Both the exhibition and catalogue for Through the Romanticist’s Eyes are structured around five themes or genres: summer and winter landscapes, seascapes, urban scenes, still lifes and portraits. Through them, we are able to discover the works of Barend Cornelis Koekkoek, Andreas Schelfhout, David de Noter, Fredrik Marinus Kruseman, Jacob Abels, Basile de Loose and Petrus van Schendel.

Accompanies the exhibitions at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, the M Museum Leuven (23 June 2011 4 September 2011) and the Kurhaus in Kleef, Germany.

Co-published with M Museum Leuven