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ยป In Arcadia Ego: Italian landscape drawings of the 16th and 17th century

In Arcadia Ego: Italian landscape drawings of the 16th and 17th century

1st April - 24th June 2008


Follower of Giorgione (early 16th century)
A pair of lovers playing music in a landscape
Pen and brown ink on red-grounded paper

All the works in the show were from the gallery's permanent collection and gave a taste of the wide variety and purpose of Italian landscape drawing of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The landscape in art was often used to create and depict an idyllic life. The title of the exhibition [Et] In Arcadia Ego (And I am in Arcadia or And I am in Arcadia as well) is a multifaceted quote from the Roman poet Horace. It is generally understood to praise the paradisial state of an idyllic, pastoral life.

The exhibition paid tribute to this by starting with a drawing by a 16th century Follower of Giorgione showing two lovers in a landscape. Giorgione was renowned for giving the surrounding landscape dominance over the figures, as can be seen in his most famous painting The Tempest.

In the 17th century many Dutch and French artists travelled to and worked in Italy and established a market for the idealised Italian landscape. The longing for an Arcadian world could partly be satisfied with these images, depicting quiet landscapes with nostalgic long abandoned ruins. It is not man claiming the land, but nature who reclaims her territory leaving only traces of human effort and influence. The drawings by Poussin, Claude and Momper in this exhibition are excellent examples of this trend.


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