Dutch and Flemish Baroque artists went to the Eternal City, Rome to further their art education. Here, they formed a merry gang called “Birds Band” (Bentvueghels). Painting, drawing, drinking and partying, went hand-in-hand with exploring Rome, its antiquities, its countryside, and its ancient catacombs. This conversation will explore the artistic connection between Rome and the Low Countries as we trace the impact of the Roman experiences on the development of art in the Netherlands.
Going to Rome formed the highlight of an artist’s education. Flemish and Dutch painters and sculptures spent a shorter or longer period in the Eternal City in order to both learn from contemporary masters and to be inspired by the ancient ruins. These Netherlandish artists sought each other’s company: newcomers were welcomed by their fellow countrymen. The wisened ‘oldies’ helped the ‘newbies’ to find lodgings, painting equipment and introduced them to possible patrons (and the Roman day and nightlife!)
We’ll learn how the Netherlandish artists formed a group called the “Birds Band” (Bentvueghels is akin to Birds of a Feather), with every member having a nickname. In order to become a member, a newcomer had to pay for a whole night of drinking and eating. At the end of this “ceremony”, he received his nickname. The Birds Band went out to explore the Roman ruins around the Roman Forum, visited the catacombs, and drew the landscapes around Tivoli ( a five-hour walk from Rome). We’ll discuss how on some of their trips above or below grounds, the Birds Band brought food and wine with them, even inscribing their names in the walls of Roman ruins. It’s clear that they had a rather good time there, to the point of misbehaving.
We’ll learn that while enjoying themselves greatly, the members of the Birds Band successfully captured Rome and the warm orange-yellow atmosphere in paintings and drawings. Returning to the Low Countries these artists brought the essence of ancient and modern Rome with them. We’ll discuss how their impressions of the Farnese Hercules-statue up to Caravaggio’s bold paintings changed Dutch Baroque painterly notions dramatically. We’ll also learn how the Birds Band influenced stay-at-home artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer.
Led by an expert on Art History, Alette Fleischer, this interactive seminar will show the artistic link between Rome and the Low Countries. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased notion that the behavior displayed by the Birds Band, being creative and having fun away from home, had quite an impact in the development of Netherlandish art.
About Your Expert
Amsterdam-born Alette Fleischer has a degree in Art History and a PhD in 17th Dutch History, focusing on gardens, science, and technology. She has curated several exhibitions, publishes articles, presents lectures, and a proud Context Expert. For Context Travel, Alette has led the Rijksmuseum tours many times. Motto: staying curious is key for being a good historian.
This conversation is suitable for all ages.
90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.
When taking a Context walking tour of Caravaggio in Rome, I was struck by the striking similar style between Caravaggio and the Dutch. But found nothing really on the subject in Rome. (Hint to the Roman guides)
In this lecture, Alette Fletcher answers this question on how Vermeer and Rembrandt’s art absorbed the light of Caravaggio. The Dutch embraced the common man depicted in Caravaggio art. This lecture is like completing a puzzle. Do not miss this excellent lecture. When you visit Rome, it will all come together.
Alette did a wonderful job researching and presenting this talk on Dutch artists. It was very interesting!
Good talk on well-chosen topic