Dutch Landscapes (3 stars)

Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 9 Jan

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Dutch Landscapes

The cool, spacious interior of the Queen’s Gallery is an apt accompaniment to the moody tones and airy landscapes of these Dutch masters of the art of landscape painting. The exhibition brings together 42 works from painters including Jacob van Ruisdael and Paulus Potter that are representative of the Dutch Republic’s main artistic centres during the 17th century.

Amidst the balanced compositions depicting everyday life, such as peasants interacting with nobles or fleets of boats setting sail, lie subtle nuances of romanticism and humour. Adriaen van de Velde’s ‘A Hunting Party Setting Out’ captures an almost fairytale sense of dress and way of life in his scene of nobles on horseback that stands in sharp contrast to Potter’s anatomically correct animals with human-like expressions, ‘A Young Bull and Two Cows in a Meadow’.

Many of the artists collected here show an incredibly fine attention to detail, perhaps best exemplified by Willem van de Velde the Younger’s ship scenes with carefully painted rigging. Also, many of the Dutch Landscape painters reference Italy in their scenes – whether this is based on actual or imaginary visits – and these pieces contrast nicely with the dunes and plains of the Dutch Republic. A welcome opportunity to learn more about this era while enjoying some fine examples of landscapes in oils.

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