Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill NC opens Rembrandt exhibit

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Rembrandt’s “Landscape with Canal and Boats” will be exhibited at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, as part of “Drawn to Life: Master Drawings from the Age of Rembrandt in the Peck Collection”, which includes dozens of 17th and 18th century drawings by Dutch and Flemish artists.

The Peck Collection at Ackland Museum of Art

After years of anticipation, a collection of rarely exhibited drawings by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn is now on display at the Ackland Art Museum.

Ackland’s brand new exhibition, “Drawn to Life: Master Drawings from the Age of Rembrandt in the Peck Collection” includes dozens of 17th and 18th century drawings by Dutch and Flemish artists, including five sketches by Rembrandt, who died in 1669.

They are all part of the Peck Collection, which the Acklands received in 2017. It was the largest gift ever given to the UNC-Chapel Hill Museum of Art, courtesy of the late UNC alumnus Sheldon Peck, and his wife, Leena Peck. This extensive collection, valued at $17 million, included 134 Dutch and Finnish drawings.

“Drawn to Life,” with 70 works, is the first time many of these drawings will be on public display since the donation. The museum notes that many can only be displayed for short periods as they are sensitive to light.

Figures dancing around a fire- Peter van Laer.jpg
Sketches on blue paper like “Figures Dancing Around a Fire” by Peter van Laer are on display at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They are part of “Drawn to Life: Master Drawings from the Age of Rembrandt in the Peck Collection,” which includes dozens of 17th- and 18th-century drawings by Dutch and Flemish artists. Pieter van Laer, Attributed to, Dutch, 1599 -after 1642, (c. 1625-30) The Peck Collection at Ackland Museum of Art

While Rembrandt’s paintings and portraits from the Dutch Golden Age strike viewers with awe and radiant glow, these drawings tell a very different story. This collection features more understated works that are meant to be viewed for longer periods of time.

Filled with humor and humanity, these sketches testify to a change in artistic ethics at that time. Instead of creating idyllic landscapes, Rembrandt and his contemporaries began to create more realistic images marked with slight imperfections and honest depictions of their subjects, said Dana Cowen, Sheldon Peck Curator for European and American Art before 1950.

“The designs are so intimate,” Cowen said. “The more you look at them, the more time you spend with them, the more you see.”

Cowen invites visitors to meditate on these drawings and to slip into the artist’s world to encounter the particular cast of characters depicted throughout the exhibition.

One of Cowen’s personal favorites is Head of a Woman Looking Down by Frans van Mieris. This simple profile drawing, as its title suggests, depicts a woman posing for a thoughtful artist.

“Head of a Woman Looking Downward” by Frans van Mieris is on display at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is part of “Drawn to Life: Master Drawings from the Age of Rembrandt in the Peck Collection”, which includes dozens of and 18th century drawings by Dutch and Flemish artists. Frans van Mieris, Dutch, 1635-1681, c. 1660-65 The Peck Collection at Ackland Museum of Art

The collection includes drawings by artists Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan van Goyen and Adriaen van Ostade.

The exhibition is open from September 23 to December 31, before moving to the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam in March.

The museum claims that the Peck Collection has helped make it one of “the few university art museums in the United States where scholars and students can study Northern European designs in depth.”

Sheldon Peck, one of the great benefactors of the museum, was a Durham native who died in April 2021. He was 79 years old and an orthodontic specialist, educator and art collector. Leena Peck, who grew up in Finland, died in 2019 at the age of 73, reported the Boston Globe.

According Sheldon Peck’s obituary.

Several events will take place during the course of the exhibition.

The Ackland Museum of Art is located at 101 S. Columbia St. in downtown Chapel Hill. Free entry. It is open Wednesday through Sunday and the second Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit ackland.org.

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“Drawn to Life: Master Drawings from the Age of Rembrandt in the Peck Collection” is at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, through December 31, 2022. It includes dozens of 17th- and 18th-century drawings from Dutch and Flemish artists. , including rare works by Rembrandt and this piece “Studies of Hands from an Album” by Abraham Bloemaert. Colleen Hammond [email protected]

This story was originally published September 23, 2022 2:13 p.m.

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Colleen Hammond is a recent graduate of Duquesne University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She previously covered breaking news, local government, the COVID-19 pandemic and racial issues for the Pittsburgh City Paper and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

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