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City of Utrecht is proud to present two major art exhibitions Spring 2009


Scorel’s Glory - March 20 to June 28, 2009 - Centraal Museum Utrecht

In the sixteenth century, the Utrecht-based painter Jan van Scorel (1495-1562) brought the Italian Renaissance to the North. This artistic evolution will be examined in detail in the exhibition Scorel’s Glory  at the Centraal Museum from March 20 until June 28, 2009. Scorel was the most important Dutch painter of his age and under his influence Utrecht became the most advanced center for painting in the Northern Netherlands.

Painter to the Pope

‘Scorel’s Glory’ offers an overview of painting in Utrecht from 1350 to 1600, highlighting the works of Jan van Scorel. The well-traveled artist was greatly influenced by the Renaissance painter Raphael, whom he succeeded as keeper of the papal art collection. Back in Utrecht, he amazed the locals with his Italian-inspired art and quickly received numerous commissions. Scorel’s work marks the transition from medieval to Renaissance painting. From this period there was renewed interest – based on the classical model -  in the study of the human body. With improved understanding of anatomy and proportion, human figures appear more natural and realistic than in earlier painting.

Old Masters in Centraal Museum The collection of Old Masters is one of the highlights of the Centraal Museum’s collection. Utrecht’s painters were far more inspired by Rome than other painters in Holland. After Jan van Scorel introduced the Renaissance to Holland, Abraham Bloemaert (1566-1651) and Joachim Wtewael (1566-1638) adopted the Italian Mannerist style. In the seventeenth century a group of painters in Utrecht were inspired by Caravaggio’s experiments with dramatic lighting effects and others fantasized about the beautiful Mediterranean landscape.

For information on Scorel’s Glory, visit

Masterly Manuscripts - The Middle Ages in gold and ink - May 16 to August 23, 2009 - Museum Catharijneconvent Utrecht

Beautiful minuscule details, glittering gold leaf and a glorious use of color: these are the characteristic features of medieval manuscripts. The exhibition Masterly Manuscripts at Museum het Catharijneconvent Utrecht, on show from May 16 to August 23, 2009, gives a wide-ranging survey of medieval book production in Utrecht in the Middle Ages, with over 100 manuscripts. Masterly Manuscripts was prepared in close collaboration with University Library Utrecht, which is celebrating its 425th anniversary this year.

For this exhibition, a selection was made from the museum’s own rich collection of manuscripts and the unique collection of devotional books from Utrecht monasteries of University Library Utrecht. In addition, important loans were obtained from home and abroad. Most of the manuscripts in the exhibition date from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. These Masterly Manuscripts are both precious and of outstanding artistic quality, making each one a unique work of art.

Made in Utrecht

In the Middle Ages, the city of Utrecht as an Episcopal see, was the absolute center of culture, politics and religion in the Northern Netherlands. The precious and richly decorated manuscripts produced in this period are among the pinnacles that stand out in the history of art. The presence of wealthy clerics, powerful noblemen and prosperous burghers combined, made a fertile seedbed for the development of an influential production of art. All the ‘Masterly Manuscripts’ were either made in Utrecht or have a special connection with the city. The makers of Utrecht manuscripts enjoyed great renown, not only in the surrounding region, but further afield and even beyond the country’s borders. Through them, Utrecht acquired a prominent international position in the world of manuscript production and early book printing.

From handwritten to printed texts

The exhibition Masterly Manuscripts presents a splendid picture of the manuscripts and early printed books that originated in Utrecht in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance (c. 695 to 1528) from the vantage point of several different themes.  The exhibition looks at those who commissioned the manuscripts as well as the monks and craftsmen who produced them. The production process also receives attention: how many people collaborated on a particular manuscript, how was vellum made, and where were the materials obtained? It will also become apparent that not every book has survived intact. These old manuscripts have suffered from ravages ranging from water damage, ink corrosion and mould to miniatures cut out to be sold separately and the depredations of mice. In addition, the exhibition demonstrates mutual influences between Utrecht manuscripts and books produced in other parts of Europe, as well as the impact of the introduction of book printing in Utrecht in 1473.

For information on Masterly Manuscripts, visit

Holland Art Cities

These exhibitions are part of the official program of Holland Art Cities 2009-2010. This festival pools the resources of ten major museums in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht to present an unprecedented wealth of art treasures. During Holland Art Cities, two Amsterdam museums – the Hermitage Amsterdam and the Stedelijk Museum – will celebrate their (re)openings. The exhibitions and displays that make up Holland Art Cities are divided in three themes: International Influences; Young: Modern and Contemporary Art and Design; and Dutch Masters.

For more information on Holland Art Cities, visit

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