Due to the storm of publicity, it seems Vincent van Gogh's 'Weed-burning peasant' (1883) the star of the new exhibition Barbizon of the North - The discovery of the Drenthe landscape 1850-1950. The centrepiece of the exhibition, as befits a good diva, is still some time away. It is 'fashionably late'. However, a spot has already been reserved.
Interest in the Van Gogh almost distracts attention from the other masters featured in the Drents Museum to be seen. Almost. With names such as Israëls, Mesdag and Moulijn, 'Barbizon of the North' is a dream exhibition that shows the complexity and diversity of the Drenthe landscape in all its facets, making you long to enjoy and unwind in the beautiful, unspoilt nature of Drenthe.
Dolmens and childhood memories
Because of the way humans treat nature, it won't be long before we can only admire it in a museum or on a screen. The landscape of Drenthe covers a large part of my life. I grew up in Drenthe, with its beautiful forests, interesting megalithic tombs and authentic mound villages. Sunday mornings on the front of my father's bike to the heath, feeding ducks, listening to woodpeckers and looking for squirrels. Or cycling with my parents to my grandparents in Rolde. I have fond memories of it. Now that I live in a city, I do miss this; the relaxing effect of the wonders of nature. But also the time when the pace was a bit slower and we enjoyed the green space around us more.
In cooperation with Het Drentse Landschap the Drents Museum has put up an exhibition that brings out this nostalgic feeling in me. The desire to go out. Walking shoes on and camera along.
An urge to capture Drenthe's nature also had painters in the nineteenth century. Inspiration leads to creation. It is of all times. For the artists themselves, their intention was to depict and, of course, sell. But the artworks have another purpose. They show a world of bygone beauty and, in doing so, force the public to face the facts. This also sometimes leads to a feeling of sadness. Protect the last bits of the authentic Drenthe landscape: the villages and untouched nature. Be careful with them!
Once again, I have 'discovered' some artists whose paintings I can enjoy immensely; Julius van de Sande Bakhuyzen and Egbert van Drielst. Especially 'Resting cowherd on bank of tree-lined waterfront' by Van de Sande Bakhuyzen appealed to me. An idyllic scene, with good use of reflection in the water and contrasting dark colours of the trees with almost pastel shades of the open field. A feast for the eyes.
The layout of the exhibition feels natural. Organic. In the period the exhibition focuses on, 1850-1950, the invention of the paint tube was a turning point. Seeing the decoration on the walls, it reminds me both of the dynamic, flowing Drenthe landscape, but also of the undulating way in which a strand of paint sometimes emerges from the tube onto the palette.
Speaking of colour palette; the warm but fresh colours used for the walls compliment the artworks beautifully. The contrast with the works makes them stand out. Especially with the months of inclement and cold weather approaching, the exhibition gives a sense of sunshine and warmth. The museum cleverly combines this with the sound of birds singing. Relaxation and unwind. After a visit to 'Barbizon of the North', you can give your meditation app a day's rest.
Within the themes, changes in style also take place; Hague School with De Ploeg and pencil drawings. This does not detract from the overall feel of the exhibition. Although I could appreciate them, Berend Groen's works - 'Old cemetery near Loon' (1983) and 'Stream landscape near Taarlo' (1998)- clearly belong to the epilogue period. Like the picture 'Erica' from Artist of the Year 2020 Saskia Boelsums. It is a fascinating and eye-catching work, in which I was practically head over heels to make sure there was no brush involved.
The spot next to Vincent van Gogh's 'The Turf Barge (1883) remains bare for a while, but even without that work Barbizon of the North -The discovery of the Drenthe landscape 1850-1950 well worth a visit. On seeing the masterpieces, it is understandable why artists flocked to Drenthe and felt inspired by the diverse landscape. It is essential to protect and preserve the remaining authenticity of Drenthe with all our might.