Dog at Rest, an oil on panel painting by Gerrit Dou is one of the works of Dutch and Flemish Art donated to MFA Boston from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection.
BOSTON— Rembrandt’s Portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh (1632) is one of the 113 Dutch and Flemish Golden Age works by 76 artists from collectors Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie that was recently gifted to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA Boston). Other notable works in the gift include Peter Paul Rubens’s Coronation of the Virgin (1632–33) and pieces by Gerrit Dou, Frans Hals, Albert Cuyp, and Jan Steen.
This is the largest gift of paintings to the MFA Boston in its 140-year history; it also nearly doubles the MFA’s collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings. The seventy-six artists represented in the represented in the double gift include Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Anthony van Dyck and Rachel Ruysch. The collection encompasses portraits, genre scenes, still lifes, landscapes, and seascapes. “They want to share their collections well into the future and create a destination for scholarship at the MFA,” explained a museum representative.
In addition to the gifted artworks, Van Otterloos and Weatherbies are also providing funding for a new Center for the Study of Netherlandish Art. Slated to open in 2020, this will the first of its kind in the United States. The Center will focus on the study and conservation of the collection and set up programs, art exhibitions, and collaboration with scholars, curators, conservators, and institutions. The collectors have also given a research library of 20,000 volumes to the MFA Boston. The library includes monographs, catalogs and rare books put together by the art historian Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann. The museum plans to hire a director for the center.
MFA’s willingness to establish the library informed the collectors’ decision to set up at the museum. According to Eijk van Otterloo, “The real struggle was whether you want the collection to be accessible to a lot of people, or whether you are really aiming for academic interest.” The collectors went with making the collection available to more art lovers.
In the spirit of making the works accessible to a large audience, the collectors stipulated in the agreement that 85 of the works donated must always be on view either at the MFA Boston or at another museum on loan. Rose-Marie van Otterloo would prefer Yale, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, and other New England museums borrowers.
Already, the donation is generating a lot of excitement at MFA Boston as it helps fill the gap in the museum’s collection of European art. Above all, it provides the museum with the great opportunity to present a comprehensive view of the art artistic production in the Netherlands in the 17th century in varied and meaningful ways. “The museum will be able to tell a more complete story about these artists,” says the museum representative.
With the large donation, there are speculations that MFA Boston may have to embark on a gallery renovation. Although there are no plans for any renovation, the museum has opened an exhibition showing off some of its important Dutch and Flemish collections. Forty-two works from the collection are presently on view at the museum in a special installation running through January 15, 2018. Also included in the show are four solo presentations on the still life artist Pieter Claesz, the landscape artist Isaacksz van Ruisdael, the seascape artist Willem van de Velde the Younger and the genre artist Jan Steen.