A Divine Discovery
From 14 November 2015 to 13 March 2016 the Frans Hals Museum will be focusing on the period when the painter Jan van Scorel (1495 – 1562) was working in Haarlem. Jan van Scorel – A Divine Discovery has been prompted by the restoration of and research into The Baptism of Christ, one of Van Scorel’s most important paintings from his Haarlem period. A wealth of new information about the painting will be revealed in the small exhibition, since various elements, including the face of God the Father, emerged from under old overpaintings.
Scorel fled to Haarlem in 1527 to escape political unrest in Utrecht. He remained for a short period—only until 1530—but he set up his first workshop there and his presence was extraordinarily important in the development of Haarlem painting. Scorel was the first Dutch painter to encounter the art of the Renaissance when he was in Italy, and he brought the particular innovations of Italian art to Haarlem. Pupils and assistants, among them the ambitious Maarten van Heemskerck, worked in Scorel’s workshop. Jan van Scorel’s importance to developments in sixteenth-century Dutch art is almost impossible to overstate.
Jan van Scorel’s The Baptism of Christ will be shown for the first time in centuries without layers of yellowed varnish and discoloured retouches and overpaintings, usually applied with a lavish hand. The exhibition examines the history of its creation and iconography, the painting technique and the wooden support, which appears to have been enlarged later in the sixteenth century. Alongside the restored painting will be Scorel’s major works from his Haarlem period, including Mary Magdalene from Rijksmuseum and Madonna with the Roses from the Centraal Museum. The restoration of The Baptism of Christ and the research into the painting are the subject of a short film.
A booklet written by Ariane van Suchtelen, interim curator of old art seconded from the Mauritshuis, who put the exhibition together, is being published to coincide with the show. Among other things she examines the importance of Scorel’s Haarlem years and places The Baptism of Christ in a broad context.