Gerson Digital : Denmark


Foreword – Chris Stolwijk

It is with great pleasure that the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History –presents the publication of Gerson Digtial : Denmark in the solid digital format of RKD Studies. The Gerson Digital project, which centers on cultural exchange between the Netherlands and the rest of Europe from 1500 to 1900, contributes to the mission of the RKD, which is to promote accessibility of knowledge and information about art of the Low Countries in an international context. This is the second publication in the Gerson Digital series. The first, concerning Poland, came out in 2013. It was supplemented by two additional articles in August 2014 (click here).

The Gerson Digital project is named after Horst Gerson (1907-1978), a renowned art historian and former director of the RKD. The aim of the project is to publish a completely new, fully illustrated and annotated English edition in digital format of Gerson’s seminal survey work, Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts (first published in 1942). With Gerson Digital the RKD also initiates further research in this highly important art-historical field, to be conducted in close collaboration with both national and international research institutes and scholars.

The publication concerning Denmark came about in close collaboration with Leiden University, the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK, Copenhagen) and The Royal Danish Collection, Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen. The colleagues of these partner institutions not only put time and expertise at our disposal but also provided large quantities of visual material and literature. Support from MA students of Leiden University was also of great value to the research.


Horst Gerson in his study, c. 1958

The Gerson-Denmark publication is enriched by a number of contributions by Dutch, German and Danish historians and art historians. The first contribution, written by Jan Kosten (RKD) is primarily intended for the non-Danish reader and offers an introduction to Danish history, which, remarkably enough, was represented by Dutch artists in the 17th century. Rieke van Leeuwen (RKD) took care of the second article, which concerns the annotated and richly illustrated Gerson-Denmark Chapter. Gerson Extended, contributed by Juliette Roding (Leiden University), places Gerson’s research in a wider cultural-historical framework. Attention is also paid to developments of the 16th century. Jørgen Wadum (SMK, Copenhagen) then treated the provenance of panels with landscapes which Christian IV ordered shipped in bulk from Antwerp in 1613 and which grace the walls of the Winter Room at Rosenborg to this day. Mikael Bøgh Rasmussen (HM The Queen’s Reference Librarian at The Royal Danish Collection, Copenhagen) treats some important aspects of the life and work of Abraham Wuchters in relation to his great rival Karel van Mander III. Michael North (Ernst Moritz Arndt Universität Greifswald) examines the collecting of art in Denmark in the 18th century, showing that many paintings were purchased at Amsterdam auctions. In his article on the function of Dutch prints and series of prints as models, David Burmeister (National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen) sheds light on the altars and pulpits that Danish artists made for the countless Lutheran churches in the country. Finally Ursula de Goede and Jan Kosten examine the continued influence of Dutch art on Danish painting of the 18th and 19th centuries. A Danish article of 1917 by Gustav Rasmussen which concerns the Dutch painter Toussaint Gelton and includes archival material that illuminates his turbulent life as Danish court painter, has been added as a supplement. Finally, the extensive bibliography contains a large quantity of Danish professional literature of which - in part thanks to the many new acquisition of Gerson Digital – the greater part can now be consulted at the RKD.

The information in RKD Explore forms the foundation for the annotated and illustrated Gerson online. The illustrations and facts concerning works of art are directly retrieved from the RKD database and shown in the digital publication, which also contains hyperlinks to records concerning artists and collectors in the database RKDartists. In addition, the information in RKD Explore functions as an extension of the documentary apparatus of the present publication. RKD Explore now contains about 200 artists or collectors and fully 2,000 artworks related to the Danish project.

Our special thanks go out to Juliette Roding, Guest Editor of this publication, and to Jørgen Wadum (SMK), Jørgen Hein and Peter Kristiansen (both The Royal Danish Collection, Rosenborg Castle). The RKD wants especially to thank the authors as well as the members of the peer review committee, Birgitte Bøggild Johannsen, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Steffen Heiberg, Norbert Middelkoop and Nicolette Sluijter-Seijffert for their valuable comments. This publication would not have been possible without the dedication of Sander Erkens, research assistant, Marilou Stegeman, volunteer, and trainees Marie-Claire Valck Lucassen, Tanya Rieks and Rominique van Wijnen.

The RKD is greatly beholden to the Kirchheiner-Galatius Fonds, which made an important financial contribution that helped make this project possible.

We are also most grateful to Brian Capstick, London, who took care of the travel expenses incurred in connection with this project and who, as native speaker, edited the contributions in English of our Danish colleagues.

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