Lucas van Leyden, the child prodigy from Leiden

Wednesday December 08 2010

Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden is pleased to present, in cooperation with Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the major exhibition Lucas van Leyden and the Renaissance from 20 March through 26 June 2011. For the first time ever, the main Renaissance artist of the Northern Netherlands will be showcased against the background of his contemporaries. The 250 works of an exceptionally high quality belong to the collections of Dutch and international museums such as the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum. Most of them will be on display in the Netherlands for the first time. This exhibition fits well into De Lakenhal’s policy to offer high-quality exhibitions of national or international significance based on sources from Leiden.

Lucas van Leyden (Leiden, approx. 1494-1533) introduced the Renaissance in the Northern Netherlands. The exhibition features prints, drawings and paintings and focuses on the important role he played in this movement. Works by internationally renowned artists such as painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer from Germany, court painter Jan Gossaert and landscape painter  Joachim Patinir from the Southern Netherlands demonstrate the coherence with contemporary artists. This exhibition’s highlights are Lucas’ triptychs, which will be re-united on this special occasion. The Last Judgement from De Lakenhal has been a crowd-puller for many years and is Lucas' only work that has remained in Leiden throughout its history. It will be showcased together with two other masterpieces: Dance around the Golden Calf from the Rijksmuseum and Christ Healing the Blind Man of Jericho from the Saint Petersburg Hermitage.

Child prodigy
At a very young age, Lucas van Leyden already produced exceptional prints, which is why he became known as a child prodigy. He was particularly renowned for his engravings which were sold all over Europe. In addition to prints, he also made paintings and drawings. He was regarded as an innovative artist because of his graphic work and the introduction of Italian Renaissance iconography in the Netherlands. His reputation reached as far as Italy and Germany. He was not only appreciated by contemporary art connoisseurs and artists, but also by artist biographers such as Giorgio Vasari and Karel van Mander who highly praised him in their writings. 

Lucas’ meeting with Albrecht Dürer in 1521 in Antwerp was very significant. The two artists exchanged a large number of prints and Dürer drew Lucas’ portrait. The exhibition displays a substantial number of Dürer’s works and demonstrates that both artists were first-rate story tellers. Paintings with card players and prints with a standard-bearer or dentist show Lucas’ interest in depicting the little everyday things of life. He introduced important genres such as the portrait and human nudes and also raised the level of the landscape genre dramatically. The implication of vast space is remarkable for his work. 

A comprehensive catalogue of the exhibition - published by Ludion - is available at € 29,90.

Renaissance in Leiden
An attractive range of related events will be offered in close cooperation with various partners from Leiden. Besides lectures, city walks and concerts, Leiden’s University Library will stage an exhibition, Boek en Plaat, Europese geïllustreerde drukken uit de tijd van Lucas van Leyden (Book and Print, European Illustrated Prints from the Age of Lucas van Leyden) in the spring of 2011. In May, the Egidius quartet will give a special concert in the Pieterskerk, the church in which The Last Judgment was on display as an altarpiece in the sixteenth century.  In Scheltema, a breeding place for artists, the exhibition ‘t Laatste Oordeel van Leiden (The Last Judgement of Leiden) will showcase works of twelve modern artists from Leiden. All of these works are directly inspired by Lucas van Leyden’s triptych of the same name.

A special education project will be developed for primary schools.

Rembrandt & Lucas van Leyden
At the same time, the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam will present the exhibition Rembrandt & Lucas van Leyden, which focuses on Lucas' influence on Rembrandt.

This exhibition has been achieved in close cooperation with Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and has been supported financially by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds/BankGiro Loterij, Mondriaan Stichting, SNS REAAL Fonds, VSBfonds and the municipality of Leiden.




Department of communication, Mia van Iterson/ Saskia Bekke-Proost