Reframed: The Woman in the Window 4 May - 4 September 2022
Reframed: The Woman in the Window, uses the Gallery’s most famous work, Rembrandt’s Girl at a Window in what is described as ‘the first exhibition to explore the concept of the ‘woman in the window’. Ranging over several thousand years and represented in numerous mediums, from oils to light boxes, the show seeks to portray women over time as invariably domestically imprisoned and certainly looking out of windows.
The British Museum as well as many familiar galleries have been plundered for examples. Does it work? Well, the show certainly brings together a wide range of artists which includes Gerrit Dou, Walter Sickert, Degas, Picasso, and David Hockney. Not only is Dante Gabriel Rossetti represented but a Botticelli he owned hangs close by. To say the exhibition is eclectic is an understatement, it is unlikely that you will ever see such a diverse collection again. This is not to criticise it, the show is beautifully presented and is a pleasure to see, the viewer, however, will quite likely suspect that its curator, Jennifer Sliwka, a specialist on Italian Rennaisance and Baroque art is furthering an additional interest. She has in recent years been exploring transhistorical studies and making connections between historic and contemporary art. Certainly, she has used the shutdown of galleries and institutions during the pandemic to scour their catalogues and rummage through their collections to further this new interest by searching for artworks which include windows.
So, rather like the riddle of the chicken and the egg,did Dulwich Picture Gallery suggest that an exhibition might be created with Rembrandt’s famous Girl at a Window as a theme or did Jennifer Sliwka alight upon the work as an inspirational starting point for the subject of women in windows? It really does not matter; both sensibly used the enforced closure to offer a most entertaining show.
Dulwich Picture Gallery is also exhibiting Unlocking Paintings, an ambitious series of displays that presents new perspectives on the Gallery’s collection, inviting artists and thinkers to interpret historic themes for contemporary audiences. Devised by the Gallery’s recently-appointed curator, Helen Hillyard, the series starts with a bold interrogation of the 17th century artist (and potential plagiarist), Philips Wouwerman, and invites visitors to cast their own judgement. True Crime: The Case of Philips Wouwerman explores the meeting of true crime and art history.
According to 18th century gossip, the Dutch painter Philips Wouwerman (1619-68) was a plagiarist. It was said that the painter stole the drawings of the dead artist Pieter van Laer most successful artists of his generation creating over 600 paintings.
Featuring works by Wouwerman and Van Laer, as well as expert testimony from the past and present, True Crime: The Case of Philips Wouwerman will present the evidence and ask the visitor to decide: what is the line between imitation and appropriation, inspiration and crime? Is Philips Wouwerman guilty or not guilty?