Art surpassing nature


National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin Mon-Sat 9.30am- 5.30pm, Thurs 9.30am- 8.30pm, Sun noon-5.30pm Until Jan 20 01-6615133

The National Gallery of Ireland’s Adriaan Waiboer’s Gabriel Metsu: Life and Work, a catalogue raisonné of the work of the great 17th-century Dutch painter, has just been published by Yale. Waiboer curated the extremely popular exhibition of Metsu’s work at the gallery two years agp (it then toured widely) and now he turns his attention to the NGI’s substantial collection of Dutch landscape paintings and drawings.

Waiboer focuses on a significant moment in art history, when landscape became a distinct subject in itself, rather than serving as a stylised backdrop to something else. Rembrandt painted only nine known landscapes, Waiboer points out, and one of them is in the NGI and in his exhibition, a “nocturnal masterpiece”.

Some 30 works make up a great, representative selection. They include Jacob van Ruisdael’s The Castle of Bentheim (above) from 1653 in which, Waiboer notes, the painter exaggerates the promontory to make the fortress appear more impressive.