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Gerard ter Borch by Arthur K. Wheelock

Gerard ter Borch

by Arthur K. Wheelock

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0300106394, Hardcover)

Unlike his friend Vermeer, Gerhard ter Borch (1617-1681) may never be the hero of a movie. Yet he is renowned for paintings that reveal the inner lives of men and women while scrupulously rendering the shimmering satin fabric of their elaborate clothing. The essays by Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr. and other art historians in Gerhard ter Borch present a clear and thorough overview of the Dutch master's life and work. Handsome color plates reproduce 52 major paintings from throughout his career, and additional black-and-white photographs provide key art historical context. Ter Borch's life is unusually well-documented, thanks in part to his doting father. He carefully preserved his young son's drawings and urged him (in a letter) to compose "modern" scenes and paint in a way that would produce the most "beautiful and flowing" effects. In his mature work, Ter Borch would move beyond stock genre scenes--jolly revelers, soldiers and prostitutes, and so forth--to create keenly observed figures with individual personalities. Ter Borch's subject matter also included portraits of wealthy patrons, rural scenes of his hometown and a vivid depiction of the signing of the Treaty of Muenster. But interior scenes are his special province. Their distinctiveness and the culture that shaped them are explored in ways that combine the hard data and theoretical underpinnings of scholarship with appealing, fact-based speculation. For example, in "Lady Drinking While Holding a Letter" (circa 1665), a woman in a lustrous golden dress--who resembles Ter Borch's cultured sister Gesina--stares moodily into space as she drinks a glass of wine and holds a drooping opened letter. Love letters were a popular theme in Dutch art. An old drinking song prescribed wine for melancholy. The painting may also recall an incident in the life of the real Gesina, whose serious romance ended a few years earlier. Ter Borch's technical brilliance is also discussed at length in an essay that incorporates UV fluorescent photos to analyze how dazzling optical effects can be created with flecks of paint. Gerard ter Borchis the catalogue for an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (through January 2005) that travels to the Detroit Institute of Arts. --Cathy Curtis

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:42 -0400)

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