Feb 6 Mon 10am-Noon Met The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Segers (Feb 13 Mon-May 21 Sun)

Hercules Segers (Dutch, ca. 1590–ca. 1638). Houses near Steep Cliffs, ca. 1619–23. Oil on canvas, 27 9/16 x 34 1/8 in. (70 x 86.6 cm). Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

17C pioneer in painted etchings who showed Rembrandt how
In another extraordinary coup the Met introduces yet another great artist the man in the street has never heard of, with curator Nadine Orenstein of Drawings and Prints gathering almost all the works extant of Hercules Segers of Haarlem and The Hague, the Dutch experimental print maker of the late 16th and early 17th Century (1589 to 1638 approx) who explored ways of combining etching and painting in landscapes of such profound and blessed subtlety that his younger compatriot Rembrandt (1606-1669) is known to have owned at least 8 of his paintings as well as a printing plate, a show that not only will restore and broaden the reputation of one of the most creative minds of five centuries ago but one that exhibits the materials and tools the uniquely experimental master used in his unmatched technical combinations of copper plate etching and double painting with colored inks which have won him a cult following among artists today including filmmaker Werner Herzog who put details of Segers’ landscapes in
Hearsay of the Soul in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, all of which techniques and works written up in the hefty and very complete two part catalogue for $120 designed by the imaginative Irena Boom with covers so black that the faint impression of a Segers work on the covers is for all practical purposes invisible, which in a way conveys the key to appreciating Segers’ work which is to give it time, for the full impression will take a considerable time to make itself felt.

Hercules Segers (ca. 1589–ca. 1638), the great Dutch experimental printmaker, created otherworldly landscapes of astonishing originality by using an extraordinary array of techniques that still puzzle scholars today. The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Segers, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from February 13 through May 21, will be the first major exhibition in the United States devoted to the artist, who possessed one of the most fertile creative minds of his time. Although his name is not well known today, Segers’s works were highly prized during his lifetime, and Rembrandt (1606-1669) owned eight of his paintings and a printing plate.

Segers’s surviving works are extremely rare: only 10 impressions of his prints are in museums in the United States (one in The Met collection), and only 15 paintings have been attributed to the artist. The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Segers will feature a selection of these paintings, in addition to almost all of Segers’s prints in varying impressions. The Rijksmuseum, whose collection of Segers’s work is the largest in the world, is generously lending its entire holdings (74 prints, two oil sketches, and one painting) to the exhibition. Other European institutions, notably the British Museum and the Kupferstichkabinett of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden, will lend important works that will allow The Met to highlight Segers’s remarkable printed oeuvre in a variety of stages, revealing the range of the artist’s experiments with the etching technique, along with his idiosyncratic use of materials.

Hercules Segers is often characterized as a forgotten genius who was beset by misfortune during his life and died in poverty. In fact, he was a well-known painter, and his work entered numerous collections during his lifetime. The eldest son of a merchant who sold clothes and paintings, Segers was sent to Amsterdam to train with the foremost landscape painter Gillis van Conincxloo. He then joined the artists’ guild in Haarlem in 1612, at a time when that city was an important center for printmaking. In 1614 Segers moved back to Amsterdam and married Anna van der Bruggen, who was 16 years his senior and wealthy. By 1619 he bought a house in Amsterdam with a view of the incomplete North Church (Noorderkerk), which he etched around 1623. Not long afterward, in 1630, Segers faced financial difficulties and was forced to sell his house to pay his debts. Around that time, he also became active selling paintings and moved to Utrecht where he sold approximately 137 paintings, including 33 of his own. His stay in Utrecht was relatively brief, and by early 1632 he had moved on to The Hague, where he died sometime between 1633 and 1638.

Hercules Segers (Dutch, ca. 1590–ca. 1638). The Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii, ca. 1628–29. Line etching printed with tone and highlights, colored with brush; unique impression, Sheet: 5 1/16 x 7 11/16 in. (12.8 x 19.5 cm). Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; on loan from the City of Amsterdam, collection Michiel Hinloopen (1619–1708), 1885

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