The discovery of the landscape of Groningen

3 August 2004

The Groninger Museum presents Ontdekking van het eigen Landschap (The discovery of the landscape of Groningen) from 4 September to January 2005 in the Prentenkabinet. The exposition includes 18th century oil paintings, water colours and drawings of the countryside of Groningen.

In the early 18th century, artists from Groningen began to discover the province's own flat landscapes. They saw and painted them in a romanticized way, emphasizing the so-called 'Drenthe' landscapes which were considered picturesque, with little dirt roads, dilapidated houses and sinuous trees. In fact, this much loved type of landscape starts in the province of Groningen, just south of the city of Groningen, and was typical of Westerwolde with the beautiful monastery in Ter Apel, for instance.

Around the turn of the century, artists such as Hendrik Lofvers (1739-1806) and Anton Koster (1769-1840) were active. A younger follower is Assuerus Quaestius (1815-1887). Although the works show some romantic bias, they were intended to depict Groningen's own landscape. They abound with noteworthy details: bridges, cows, rubbing-posts for the cattle made of whale jaws, and pedlars with their carts.

The interest in the local landscape strongly increased in the second half of the 18th century. Huge numbers of drawings and prints with views of towns and villages were made. Objects of interest became very popular, just like the parts of Groningen and Friesland with lots of water and open fields, with cows, travelling pedlars, and ships.

The water colours of P. Moolenberg (approx. 1773-1807) are a fine example of interiors and landscapes combined into one work of art. A great master of the 'Drenthe' landscape was Egbert van Drielst(1745-1818), born in Groningen. Several wall-to-wall murals by Gerardus Wieringa (1758-1817) have been preserved, just like one of his mantel paintings. The latter will be on display in the Prentenkabinet.

The exposition reflects how we look upon the 'primitive' landscape of the northern Netherlands of more than two centuries ago. A water colour by Moolenberg and two works by Koster were recently acquired by the museum and will be shown for the first time.

For more information: Josee Selbach, 050-3666555,