The Fabric of Light
A History of the Painting of Light

08.03.2011 to 08.05.2011


A tour has been devised through some of the rooms at the Gemäldegalerie as an exhibition-within-an-exhibition, centred around the theme of light. Here for once, the discussion turns away from the events in the pictures and instead to the effects of light, the brilliant radiance, shimmer and sparkle, the progression from dark to light and the contrast and gradation of the two. Chiaroscuro, chroma, dark ground and natural light: these unique terms describe the phenomena, forms and instruments of painting light and are all clearly illustrated in select works on display.

The tour mainly focuses on the 17th century, among Rembrandt and Vermeer's contemporaries. Here, chiaroscuro and delicate tonal gradations, minute surface detail and a coordinated economy of light and dark take on a leading role in the depiction of interiors awash with light, atmospheric landscapes, depictions of dramatic events and in haunting portraits. Light takes on a material quality of its own, it mixes with the colours, pierces the air and modifies the appearance of things.

Several of Rembrandt's etchings provide an introductory impression of the rich diversity of this culture of light, while the mini exhibition-within-the-exhibition also takes the viewer to works by Caravaggio, Honthorst, Stom, Vermeer, de Hooch and others.

Sponsored by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.