Masters of Mobility


1.7 Conclusions

The database RKDartists& is very suitable for mapping out patterns in the mobility of artists. The data generated by the Gerson project contribute to the reliability of the results, especially those in relation to the mobility from and to the Low Countries in the early modern period. The international scope of the database makes it possible to compare the mobility of Netherlandish artists with artists from other countries. The transnational mobility of Flemish and Dutch artists in the early modern period should not be lumped together, but investigated separately, as their mobility patterns are widely divergent. The numbers and conclusions presented by Wilfried Brulez in 1986 are inadequate and incorrect, not only because the data he used are now considered incomplete and outdated, but especially because his did not make a clear and consistent distinction between the mobilities of Northern and Southern Netherlandish artists.

The mobility of Dutch artists is not as high as has previously been assumed. Flemish artists, on the other hand, do belong to the most mobile groups of artists, but German artists are even slightly more mobile. Artists from the Northern Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy were the most mobile during the 17th century, before the migration rates increased dramatically in the 19th century. The mobility graph of artists from the Southern Netherlands, however, shows a peak in the 16th century instead.

Although Italy was the most popular destination of Flemish artists, their Dutch colleagues mostly went to Germany. The mobility of artists could have been stimulated by political and economic situations and facilitated by family and professional networks as well as cultural and societal factors, most commonly by a mix of those. Especially in cases of temporary relocations, artists from the Low Countries were focusing on acquiring commissions, collecting (topographic) motifs or gaining education and experience. About a quarter of the artists from both the Northern and the Southern Netherlands in Germany, Austria and Bohemia were active as court artists; half of the places they visited were places with a court. Most Dutch artists went to Hamburg, followed by Cologne, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Cleves and Frankfurt. Flemish artists on the other hand went mostly to Vienna, followed by Frankfurt, Cologne, Prague and Munich.

Conversely, the most popular direction of German artists in the early modern period was the Northern Netherlands, followed by Italy; the Southern Netherlands was only number six on their list. Most of the German artists who migrated to the Northern Netherlands came from Hamburg and Frankfurt; their most popular destinations were Amsterdam and The Hague. In conclusion, being neighbours, there was a major mutual artistic involvement between the Northern Netherlands and the German lands, especially in the 17th century.

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