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For the first time, the Museo del Prado and the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga will be showing masters of northern landscape in Lisbon Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pedro Passos Coelho, the Prime Minister of Portugal, and Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Vice-president of the Spanish Government, accompanied by António Felipe Pimentel, director of the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Miguel Zugaza, director of the Prado, and Teresa Posada, curator of this exhibition, today presented Rubens, Brueghel, Lorrain. Northern Landscape from the Museo del Prado.

Having been seen in various cities in Spain including Seville, Zaragoza and Palma, the exhibition now travels to Lisbon with the aim of introducing Portuguese visitors to the remarkable quality of the works of which it is comprised and the mastery of the artists, in addition to familiarising them with the different types of landscape that arose in Flanders and Holland in the 17th century.

For the first time, the Museo del Prado and the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga will be showing masters of northern landscape in Lisbon

The Port of Amsterdam in Winter, Hendrick Jacobsz Dubbels, Oil on canvas, 67 x 91 cm, Museo Nacional del Prado

This is the first exhibition entirely consisting of works from the Prado to be held in Portugal, offering visitors to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga a unique opportunity to appreciate this important selection of landscapes.

Rubens, Brueghel, Lorrain. Northern Landscape from the Museo del Prado offers an exceptional chance to appreciate a survey of the evocative world of Northern landscape and to appreciate the fidelity with which these artists depicted mountains, forests, farmland, rivers, seas, snow-covered landscapes and frozen canals, all bathed in a naturalistic light.

During the early modern age the Italians applied the term “northerners” to the painters from regions beyond the Alps, fundamentally the Low Countries. In the 17th century, the social and cultural context of that region led painters and collectors to largely move away from the heroic themes typical of history painting and to favour everyday scenes that were equally appropriate as subjects for art. Among them was landscape, which became an independent pictorial genre in which the narrative depicted was relegated to a secondary plane and became the pretext for a faithful depiction of natural elements.

Curated by Teresa Posada Kubissa, Curator of Flemish and Northern Schools Painting (up to 1700) at the Prado, the exhibition features 57 works. Among the artists included are leading figures within this genre, represented by works of the importance of Alpine Landscape by Tobias Verhaecht, one of Rubens’s teachers; Country Life and Country Wedding by Jan Brueghel the Elder, in addition to Abundance and The Four Elements which Brueghel painted in collaboration with Hendrick van Balen, and Market and Laundry in Flanders in collaboration with Joos de Momper the Younger; Landscape with Gypsies and The Archery Contest by David Teniers; the dramatic Siege of Aire-sur-la-Lys by Peeter Snayers; and Forest with a Lake by Jan Brueghel the Younger and studio.

The two most characteristic types of northern landscape – the winter landscape and landscape with water – are represented by exquisite works such as The Port of Amsterdam in Winter by Hendrick Jacobsz. Dubbels and Landscape with Skaters by Joos de Momper the Younger; and by paintings such as Beach with Fishermen by Adam Willaerts, which combines landscape and genre painting. A Seaport and Landscape with the Dutch disembarking in Brazil by Jan Peeters refer to the distant landscapes that commercial trade routes brought closer to the Dutch. Finally, the exhibition includes Rubens, the great Flemish master, whose landscapes are the most intimate and personal facet of his output. Among them is the superb Atalanta and Meleager hunting the Calydonian Boar, which is one of the masterpieces of northern landscape painting. The exhibition concludes with some of the landscapes commissioned by the Spanish monarch Philip IV to decorate the Buen Retiro palace in Madrid, commissioned from Claude Lorrain and Jan Both, young northern painters who introduced the so-called “Italianate landscape” into Rome, a genre that had numerous followers in Holland. The most important of them was Philips Wouwerman, who specialised in hunting scenes such as Halt at a Wayside Inn that anticipate the Rococo style.