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Bakker, B.

Bakker, B.

Boudewijn Bakker, born in Dubbeldam, the Netherlands, in 1938. M.A. from the University of Amsterdam. Chief Curator at the Municipal Archives, Amsterdam.

Junior Fellow (1 September 1995 – 30 June 1996)

One of the most popular and intriguing themes in the history of art is the emergence of ‘landscape’ as an independent genre in 17th-century Dutch painting. When I entered NIAS I intended to write a book on one of the most tricky aspects of this subject — the relation between ‘art’ and ‘nature’, or `art’ and ‘reality’ — based on the study of contemporary texts. Soon I discovered that for a better understanding of these 17th century texts, I needed to get more at home in the traditional views on landscape and landscape painting in Western Europe, that is to say: first, the intellectual and spiritual response to physical landscape in general, and second, the reflection of these views in the functioning of landscape as a subject in Netherlandish painting. I realised that I had to start my research about 1400, the time of the introduction of landscape in painting by Jan van Eyck and a few contemporary artists.

Under normal working conditions, such a project would have been out of consideration. In Wassenaar, the cloister-like seclusion of NIAS and the perfect personal atmosphere gave me the opportunity to read at least some of the most essential texts by classical, medieval and Renaissance authors. This wide reading has provided me with the necessary theoretical basis for my study, which now will be published as a history of landscape in Netherlandish painting from van Eyck to Rembrandt, with special attention to the ideological background of this well-known but ill-understood phenomenon.