In 2013 the RKD initiated a largescale research project under the banner of Gerson Digital. It traces the careers of Dutch and Flemish artists who worked abroad in the 16th and 17th century, and explores the way they exchanged ideas with colleagues in other countries. There is also a focus on the important part that foreign patrons, collectors and dealers played by buying Dutch and Flemish paintings, both in the Low Countries and elsewhere. This enabled local artists to get to know those works, even many years later, absorb their idiom, and channel it into their own paintings.
Jean-Etienne Liotard, Portrait of the art collector François Tronchin (1704-1798) with his painting of Rembrandt, 1759, Cleveland Museum of Art. Over the course of the 18th century, Rembrandt’s Woman in bed was in collections in France, Switzerland Italy and England. Since 1892 it has been in the Scottish National Gallery.
The starting point for this project was the influential but now obsolete publication by Horst Gerson (1907-1978), Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts (1942), which considers the dispersal and reception of Dutch painting in just about every European country. The aim now is to produce a fully revised, critically annotated and illustrated digital publication, and to stimulate and publish new research. In the coming years the RKD will publish an entire series of instalments online, including publications on Poland, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, England, France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. Each one will appear (or has appeared) online as a RKD Monograph, a digital publication. In December 2013 the first instalment appeared, Gerson Digital: Poland. In May 2015 the second was published: Gerson Digital: Denmark. 2015-2018 will focus on Germany. For the purpose of this project the RKD offers traineeships for master students in art history.
Rieke van Leeuwen, project manager Gerson Digital
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