Masters of Mobility



Rieke van Leeuwen & Juliette Roding

This publication contains the proceedings of the symposium Masters of Mobility. Cultural Exchange between the Netherlands and Germany in the long 17th Century, organized by the RKD, the Rijksmuseum and the Department of Art History of Leiden University, in October 2017, in collaboration with many national and international partners, including universities, museums and individual scholars.

Netherlandish art in international perspective is an important theme in the research programs of both the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History in The Hague, and the Department of Art History of Leiden University. The Low Countries made a major contribution to the development of art in Europe in the long 17th century. Apart from Italian art, it was the art of the Netherlands that formed a model for artists and clients in Europe in order to bring the status of their local art and culture to a higher level and as a promotional strategy. Art from the Low Countries ̶ painting, drawing, printmaking, tapestries, sculpture and architecture ̶ was known for its high quality and therefore constituted a popular ‘brand’.

The research project Gerson Digital : Germany, Austria and Bohemia (2016-2018), initiated by the RKD, focuses on the mobility, networks and activities of Dutch and Flemish artists in the German lands and vice versa and on the nature of the cultural exchange with their German colleagues, clients and patrons at the courts and in the towns. This research was the reason for the symposium Masters of Mobility. Cultural Exchange between the Netherlands and Germany in the long 17th Century. A sequel to Gerson Digital : Germany, dedicated to the vibrant history of collecting of Dutch and Flemish art in the German lands and the impact of Netherlandish painting on Germans artists, was presented a year later, during the symposium Collecting Dutch and Flemish Art in Germany 1600-1900, this time co-organized with the ANKK (Arbeitskreis Niederländische Kunst und Kulturgeschichte).

During the symposium in 2017, the annotated and illustrated digital English version of Horst Gerson’s chapter on Germany I (from his Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, 1942)1 was launched.2 At the same occasion the RKD presented a new online feature – RKD Maps – which visualizes the mobility of artists.3 For the Gerson project on Germany, large quantities of data were collected or enhanced in the databases of the RKD to – literally ̶ ‘map’ the cultural exchange between the Low Countries and the German lands.

In response to the Call for Papers for Masters of Mobility we received a large number of proposals for papers on 1) the dissemination of expertise and knowledge of Netherlandish art in Germany through the role of artists from the Low Countries as teachers of German artists, in the Netherlands or elsewhere; 2) on networks of Flemish, Dutch and German artists and architects, both in Germany and in the Netherlands, at the courts and in the towns; as well as 3) as monographic studies on Flemish and Dutch artists active in the German lands, or German artists active in the Low Countries. We are very grateful to the many contributors to the symposium, especially to those who were willing to rewrite their talks and make them suitable for publication in this volume.

Last, but not least, we wish to thank Gregor Weber, Head of the Department of Fine and Decorative Arts at the Rijksmuseum, who played a vital role in the realization of this symposium as well as in the composition of the program.



1 Gerson 1942/1983.

2 Gerson/Van Leeuwen et al. 2017-2018. During the next symposium, in October 2018, the publication of the second part on Germany was launched (Gerson/Van Leeuwen et al. 2018).

3 Since 8 October 2018, maps are included in all records in RKDartists and RKDimages, showing the mobility of artists and artworks. These maps are a direct visualization of the geographic data and their coordinates in the text; when new information is added, the maps change correspondingly.

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