Landscapes in Zurich

The exhibition presents a panorama of landscape painting, with around 60 key works from the collection covering the period between 1500 and 1800 in Flanders, Holland and Italy. Landscape painting was not a motif as such until the late fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century. The presentation opens with late medieval paintings in which the purpose of the landscape is to enliven the depiction of a Biblical scene and present it in the best light. They are followed by Netherlandish and Italian landscapes from the 16th and 17th centuries. The Renaissance and later the Reformation and the Baroque paved the way when biblical scenes were not wanted anymore.

Especially fine works by the Flemish Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) herald the start of landscape painting’s heyday in the 17th century, as Dutch artists move away from religious motifs and develop a rich tradition of pure landscape. On show are works by painters including Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634), Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), Jacob van Ruisdael (1628-1682), Nicolaes Berchem (1620-1683), and Margareta de Heer (1603-1665).

The presentation of Dutch landscapes is followed by paintings created in Italy during the 17th century, including works by Domenichino (1581-1641), Salvator Rosa (1615-1673)and two paintings by Claude Lorrain (1600-1682).

The final section of the presentation looks ahead to artistic production on the cusp of the 20th century, when representatives of modernism started to incorporate their own visions into the choice of motifs and their painterly execution. In early modern landscapes, artists such as van Gogh, Segantini and Monet react in a strikingly different way to the open country that the Old Masters had painted so emblematically.