Gerson Digital: Italy

Gerson Digital: Italy is a research project concerning the cultural exchange between the Netherlands and Italy between 1500 and 1800. It is part of the Gerson Digital programme which the RKD launched in 2013.

Horst Gerson

The starting point of the project is the groundbreaking publication by Horst Gerson (1907-1978), Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts (Amsterdam 1983, ed. princ. Haarlem 1942), which considers the dispersal and reception of Dutch painting in Europe by country.

The cultural exchange between the Netherlands and Italy started early and was of great importance to artistic developments in both countries. A journey to Italy was regarded in the North as a suitable conclusion of the artistic training, although painters in the seventeenth century sometimes also abstained from travelling to the South, the best known example being Rembrandt and Jan Lievens. However, also Rembrandt was clearly influenced by masters such as Raphael and Titian, whereas his paintings were desired among Italian collectors.

Gerson Digital: Italy

Gerson Digital: Italy traces the routes and careers of Dutch and Flemish artists who worked at the Italian courts and in the major towns, as well as those of Italian artists and journeymen who were active in the Netherlands. The project explores the way artists exchanged ideas and techniques, and the part that patrons, collectors and dealers played in ordering, buying and selling Dutch and Flemish paintings, drawings, prints, tapestries, stained-glasses and sculptures, both in the Netherlands and in Italy. Because a large number of Netherlandish works remained in Italy, Italian artists got to know those works and, even many years later, absorbed their idiom, and channeled it into their own works. The project combines various fields of research, such as social and economic art history, history of style and taste, as well as connoisseurship.

The RKD collaborates with the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence (NIKI) to launch the peer-reviewed edition Gerson Digital: Italy. This was presented at the annual NIKI symposium in December 2019.