400 Years of European Painting on View in Hong Kong

A monumental still life with fruit and various objects by Hubert Van Westhoven
Launch Slideshow

A Brush with Nature, an exhibition of Old Master Paintings in Hong Kong, covers 400 years of western painting and drawing, addressing the key themes of European art from the Renaissance to the 19th century: Religious devotion; Still life; Landscape; and depictions of the human form. It includes works by some of the most influential artists of all time, such as Rembrandt, but also contains high quality works by lesser known artists who strove to emulate their forebears. Click above to see more.

400 Years of European Painting on View in Hong Kong

  • Hubert Van Westhoven
    A monumental still life with fruit and various objects
    Paintings by Westhoven are rare. It is clear from his paintings that we do know, however, that he was greatly inspired by the leading Dutch still life painter of the Golden Age, Jan Davidsz. de Heem. In the present work , Huybert van Westhoven depicts a group of objects which would all have suggested considerable wealth and luxury – nautilus shells, citrus fruit, a lobster, and a blue and white Ming Kraak porcelain vase which would have been imported into the Netherlands from China. During the 17th century, Amsterdam became the largest trading port in the world, resulting in a high standard of living for the Dutch people – still lifes such as this were often commissioned to represent their wealth.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Edwaert Collier, Vanitas still life with a violin, recorders, music manuscript and a globe
    Edwaert Collier was a Dutch painter who probably trained in Haarlem but is first documented in 1667 in Leiden. Collier came to London in 1693, leaving a plummeting still life market in Holland for a booming one in England, and stayed there until 1706. He specialised in illusionistic trompe l'œil arrangements and still lifes, using a recognisable inventory of objects, including the violin, recorders and globe found here. The composition , with the violin propped on the open book, and the sheet music draped over the edge of the table, held in place by the recorder, is typical of the artist.

    The Latin inscription in the open book meaning ‘Music is a companion to joy and medicine for pains’ recurs in other Dutch 17th century musical paintings, including Johannes Vermeer’s famous Music Lesson in The Royal Collection, Buckingham Palace.


    View Exhibition Details
  • Hendrik de Fromantiou, Still life with a Chinese transitional blue and white silver-mounted tankard, grapes and walnuts on a plate, with peaches and a roemer on a partially draped marble table, a red admiral butterfly above
    Hendrik de Fromantiou was born in the Dutch city of Maastricht in 1633. He trained in Holland and painted there for many years, probably until 1670, when he was appointed court painter to Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg, whose son, Friedrich III, he also worked for. De Fromantiou executed a number of royal commissions, which undoubtedly raised his profile and the value of his paintings among contemporary collectors, and enable us today to piece together his peripatetic career: Amsterdam 1672, London 1682, Amsterdam and Gdansk 1684; he died in Berlin in the 1690s. As the false signature on this painting indicates, Fromantiou's work is very much inspired by and has much in common with the paintings of Willem van Aelst (1627-83) - one of Holland's foremost still life painters of the period. The marble table top, peaches and vine leaves in the present work are most comparable to elements commonly found in van Aelst's works. The relationship between the artists is unclear, but it must be assumed that even if they never met, Fromantiou at least had the opportunity to study van Aelst's work very closely.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Jean-Pierre Péquignot, A classical landscape with a fortified town
    Painted towards the end of the 1790s, this is one of the finest known works by the French neo-classical landscape painter Jean-Pierre Péquignot. It is a particularly beautiful example of a neo-classical landscape, reflecting a renewed interest in classical art and the culture of classical antiquity, seen here in the architecture and figures dressed in classical clothing. The main neo-classical movement took place in Europe from the mid-18th through until the mid-19th century and incorporated not just the visual and decorative arts, but also literature, theatre, music and architecture. The style of the painting reveals Pequigot’s characteristically precise and detailed brushwork together with an interest in the depiction of light and atmosphere. The grandeur of the architecture and idyllic landscape combine to give a sense of timelessness as the viewer is transported into another seemingly arcadian world. Dr. Emilie Beck Saiello, who published the painting in her recent catalogue raisonné on the artist, believes that elements of the scene are taken from the artist’s place of birth – the Franche-Comte in Eastern France – whilst the buildings and architecture are inspired by Italy, where Pequignot spent much of his working life. In 1808, a year after the artist’s death, the painting was engraved and published by Charles-Paul Landon, attesting to the popularity and success that the work enjoyed.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Jacques-Albert Senave, Paris, a view of the Seine with the bridge of Louis XVI
    Jacques-Albert Senave initially studied under a canon at the abbey of Loo, and later attended the academies in Dunkirk and St-Omer before moving to Paris in 1780, where he studied under Joseph Benoît Suvée and Jacques Louis David. His oeuvre primarily consists of Paris cityscapes , as well as history and genre paintings, and a few portraits. In 1821, after presenting a painting of Rembrandt's studio featuring portraits of leading Leiden personalities of the day, Senave was appointed Honorary Dean of the Painting Academy of Ypres.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Rudolf Wiegmann, Rome, a view of the River Tiber looking south with the Castel Sant'Angelo and Saint Peter's Basilica beyond
    Painter, architect and archaeologist, Rudolf Wiegmann studied architecture at Göttingen before leaving for Rome in 1828 to further his education. There he immersed himself in the architecture of antiquity and his experiences were to inspire the topographical views of Italy painted on his return to Germany in 1832. Several paintings by him of Rome are recorded, the majority dated between 1833 and 1836, though he continued to paint views of the city during the course of the following decade. Characteristic of these works is the meticulous care with which the monuments are rendered, seen here to particularly good effect in the forms of the Castel Sant’Angelo on the right and the Basilica of St Peter in the middle distance beyond, its distinctive dome reflected in the River Tiber. In 1835 Wiegmann moved to Düsseldorf, where he later became Professor of Architecture at the academy. His subsequent career centred on his activity as an architect, working on buildings that included for instance the renovation and redesign in late Gothic style of the Salvatorkirche in Duisburg.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Pierre-Jacques Volaire, A Mediterranean port by moonlight with fishermen pulling in their nets
    Pierre-Jacques Volaire was a native of Toulon, France, from a Toulonnais family of painters. As an artist, his career really began in 1754, when Joseph Vernet arrived in Toulon, sent by Louis XV to paint the French ports. Vernet took Volaire as his assistant, and they travelled together for eight years. This picture is likely to be an early work by Volaire and was most probably painted in Toulon between 1755–64, when he served as an assistant to Vernet on the latter's famous series of the Ports de France. The composition is in fact based upon a painting of 1759 by Vernet, formerly in the Youssoupoff collection in St. Petersburg.1 Vernet's original design of early morning mist has here been adapted by Volaire to a moonlit scene. In fact, moonlit scenes such as this were increasingly to become a speciality of Volaire's after he entered into independent practice in 1764, culminating in his famous series of views of the Eruption of Vesuvius.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Pierre-Athanase Chauvin, View of the pines of the Villa Borghese from the back of the Villa Medicis
    Pierre-Athanase Chauvin was a pupil of Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he was trained in Paris in the neoclassical style. He was 19 years old when he first took art in the Salon exhibition in 1793. Although he was born in Paris and trained by a French master, Chauvin moved to Rome in 1801 or 1802 where he was to spend most of his life. In Rome he became one of the stars of the international artistic community, and shared a studio with François-Marius Granet. Through Granet Chauvin was introduced to Pierre-Narcisse Guerin and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the latter went on to paint portraits of Chauvin and his wife in 1814 (now in the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne). During the 1800s, Chauvin travelled to Florence and Naples, and began to focus on Italian views. He became a member of the Academy of Saint Luke in Rome in 1813 and, on his way back to Paris in 1827, was named a corresponding member of the institute. The present painting reflects Chauvin's controlled use of light and his powerful sense of atmosphere, much influenced by Valenciennes. Chauvin gives us the impression that he has been painting in the open air rather than in a studio. The pines lend a structural element to Chauvin's composition, heightening the recession through space.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Rembrandt Harmensz. Van Rijn, Study of a seated mother, and child in a high chair
    Rembrandt was one of the greatest draughtsmen who has ever lived, with an unparalleled genius for conveying an immense amount of mood and feeling with only a very few, delicate strokes of the chalk or pen. In the middle of his career, he made a number of rapid sketches like this , exploring the relationship between mother and child. Generally, these were not made as studies for any painting, but simply as moving observations of humanity. Rembrandt's drawings have been highly prized ever since his own lifetime and most of his surviving works on paper are in major museum collections in Europe and the USA.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Gerbrandt van den Eeckhout, Half-length study of a man carrying a chest
    Gerbrand van den Eeckhout studied with Rembrandt during the early 1640s, and soon emerged as one of the master’s most gifted and original pupils. His drawings include outstanding works in a wide range of techniques and media, but he did not very often use the striking and atmospheric combination of black chalk and blue paper that we see here. This is, though, the technique that has traditionally been most highly appreciated and valued by collectors of Eeckhout’s drawings, such as the late Dutch scholar, Professor I.Q. van Regteren Altena, who owned a study very similar in style to this , which set the world auction record for a drawing by the artist when it was sold a few years ago.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Andrea Domenico Remps, A trompe l'œil with letters, playing cards and a bas-relief
    Probably of German origin, and active in Venice in the late 17th century, Remps is one of the earliest specialists in trompe l'œil. He is best known for his painting Cabinet of Curiosities today in the Opificio delle pietre dure, Florence. The seal on the proclamation here is stamped with the mark of Pope Clement X who was Pope between 1670 and 1676 thus providing a terminus ante quem for the painting of 1676.

    View Exhibition Details
  • Martin van Dorne, A trompe l'œil of swags of fruit and flowers pinned to a white wall together with moths and other insects
    Though little is known about the details of Martin van Dorne’s life, this still life painter clearly achieved great success in his lifetime – in 1779 Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine elected him as his court painter, and in 1800 he co-founded the academy of his native town Leuven.

    View Exhibition Details
/
Close

Featured Content

We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.

Close