Art is divine

Unforgettable Looks

By Micha Christos

RIJKSMUSEUM

Netherlands

October 1, 2021 - January 16, 2022

 

DO NOT FORGET ME PORTRAITS OF DÜRER TO SOFONISBA

Petrus Christus, Portret van een jonge vrouw, ca. 1470. 

Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a design by Jean Michel Wilmotte, "Do not forget me" is the first major exhibition in the Netherlands dedicated to Renaissance portraits in Western Europe.

Over a hundred masterpieces by the greatest painters, Holbein, Dürer, Memling and Veronese show powerful emperors, flamboyant aristocrats and wealthy citizens in their best light in order to survive beyond their allotted time on earth.

Indeed, since antiquity, the portrait has made it possible to keep a living image beyond absence in order to preserve the memory of a being over time.

Titian, Portrait of Ranuccio Farnese, 1541–1542 

Washington, National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection


Maerten van Heemskerck, Self Portrait with the Colosseum, Rome, 1533, 

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Sofonisba Anguissola, Zelfportret aan de schildersezel, 

ca. 1556–1557. ŁaŃcut, Muzeum-Zamek w ŁaŃcucie

 

 

 

 

 

Each one portrayed was, of course eager for this memory to be the most representative of his beauty or his authority. The "Portrait of a Young Girl" circa 1470, by Petrus Christus, captures the ephemeral and pure essence of the young lady ready to be married in all her fragility on the border between childhood and the woman in the making. Her slightly sulky look, her sidelong glance, her so small build recall her mistrust of this adult world which forces her to grow up while her finery, from the head dress to the precious necklace that adorns her slender neck, gives her already a rank to hold as the wife of a man of power.

It is fascinating to see that each portrait projects a desire for light around themes as different as love, ambition, family, scholarship or faith.


 

 

 

 

Some portraits look silently, questioning the people who contemplate them, others seem absent or focused on other parts of the canvas in front of present or imaginary objects or interlocutors. The artists focus their compositions around the final rendering that the model has chosen to honor his memory.

All of them tell us about beings long since disappeared and who owe their immortality only to the talents of the painters whose services they paid to pass to posterity.

Remembrance and forgetting are at the heart of this magnificent fresco of our humanity, of this visceral fear of the aftermath, of this fatal moment when the body is absent to become a tumult of emotions in the heart of those closed to us and contemporaries before disappearing with them to make room for new generations.

 

After centuries of stillness, these portraits still vibrate with that flame of flesh, a dream of immortality. Troubling and moving ...

 

Jan Jansz Mostaert, Portrait of an African Man 

(Christophle le More?), ca. 1525 - ca. 1530. Rijksmuseum


Lorenzo Lotto, Marsilio Cassotti and his Wife Faustina, 1523. 

Museo del Prado, Madrid