This autumn, the Zeeuws Museum proudly presents The Inverted World of Adriaen van de Venne, a major exhibition of works by this 17th-century artist. Although relatively unknown to the general public, he is considered one of the most original and versatile artists of the Dutch Golden Age. For this first major survey of his work, the Zeeuws Museum’s exhibition team is augmented by guest curator Edwin Buijsen, Van de Venne connoisseur par excellence.

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Multifaceted artist

Van de Venne (1590-1662) was a multifaceted artist: he was a painter, a poet and a designer of prints and book illustrations. His visual and literary works reveal his great creativity, originality and, above all, his sense of humour. Many of his scenes show people mocking social conventions. His career as an artist began around 1614 in Middelburg, where he worked for more than ten years. The exhibition marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of The Zeeland Nightingale, a collection of poems with contributions by more than twenty Zeeland poets, including Jacob Cats and Johan de Brune. Van de Venne made an important contribution to this volume, supplying both verses and illustrations. The exhibition reveals the great beauty and versatility of Van de Venne’s work, which is as relevant today and when it was made: he lived and worked in a period which, like ours, was characterised by major social changes and political unrest.

Partnership and lenders

The Zeeuws Museum’s partner for the exhibition is the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which owns the most important Van de Venne collection in the world and is lending a number of crucial works. Other lenders include the Amsterdam Museum, the Mauritshuis in The Hague, the Art & History Museum in Brussels, the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, the Kurpfälzisches Museum in Heidelberg, the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt, the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, the Zeeland Library and the Zeeland Archive in Middelburg and private collections in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.

For the scholarly research for this exhibition, the Zeeuws Museum has worked closely with institutions including the RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History.