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FLEMISH PAINTINGS (article first published : 2007-01-28)

UNISA Press, in association with the representation of the Flemish government and the Pretoria Art Museum has launched Bernadette van Haute’s Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century in South African Public Collections”.

The impressive publication is a thoughtfully compiled, illustrated catalogue of Flemish paintings housed in South African public collections. It offers a unique and interesting account of the many important paintings overlooked in international scholarship through lack of exposure.

With all the paintings reproduced in colour, this lavish large-format publication is a valuable resource for any reader offering a significant contribution to the art world’s knowledge of the many Flemish artists discussed here.Flemish paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries in South Africa are largely housed in public institutions. In the introduction, the author addresses the reasons for the neglect of the collected works by examining their history.

Out of the total of 77 Flemish paintings in South African public collections, 43 works were donated, 5 bequeathed, 12 given on loan by private collectors and 15 were purchased by the museums themselves; the provenance of two paintings is unknown. The category of landscape painting is the best represented group (20 paintings). In second place come portraiture and history painting, each with a total of 17 pictures; still-life painting is represented by 14 works and genre painting by 9.

As a comprehensively researched documentation of part of South Africa's national estate, the importance of the book resides in its relevance for both international and local historic records. With all the paintings reproduced in colour, this lavish large-format publication is a valuable resource for any reader offering a significant contribution to the art world's knowledge of the many Flemish artists discussed here.

The value of this catalogue also lies in its attempt to advocate new attributions in the light of recent scholarship. This publication was realised with the financial support of the Research and Bursaries Committee of the University of South Africa and the Oppenheim Memorial Trust.

Bernadette Van Haute is a senior lecturer in Art History at the University of South Africa. Her research focus is Netherlandish art of the seventeenth century. She conducted her doctoral research and authored the monograph on David III Ryckaert: A seventeenth-century Flemish painter of peasant scenes (Pictura Nova VI, Turnhout: Brepols 1999).




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