Fall Exhibition at the Clark Presents Compelling New Evidence of the Connection between Goltzius and Tetrode
For Immediate Release
October 01, 2001
The most esteemed Dutch engraver of the late sixteenth century, Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617), sought to elevate the medium of engraving to the level of the fine arts of sculpture and painting. He succeeded in a series of colossal prints that depict the human body with extraordinary virtuosity. For years, scholars have speculated that Goltzius was greatly influenced by the bronzes of his countryman Willem Danielsz. von Tetrode (c. 1525-1580). A new exhibition opening at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on October 7, Goltzius and the Third Dimension, reveals new visual evidence that Goltzius may have used Tetrode's sculptures, such as Hercules Pomarius, as actual models for his prints.
"This exhibition represents the first opportunity to see the Tetrode bronzes side-by-side with the engraved works by Goltzius," said James A. Ganz, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs at the Clark. "Our goal was to uncover the sources of some of the most powerful representations of the male nude in the history of Western art."
Most of the 26 prints by Goltzius in the exhibition were executed in the late 1580s, a period of intense activity for Goltzius. Although Goltzius turned to painting later in his career, his reputation was built almost exclusively on his achievements as a graphic artist. In his workshop in Haarlem, the Netherlands, Goltzius developed an engraving technique of overlapping curved lines which he used to describe the curves of the human body. This and other printmaking techniques gave his work a three-dimensional feel. His work, like that of other "mannerist" artists of the 16th century, featured powerfully built human figures with bulging muscles and intense facial expressions.
The hugely muscled nudes and range of poses in Goltzius's prints bear a strong resemblance to a number of sculptures by Tetrode. A native of Delft, Tetrode spent time in Italy and in the 1560s introduced Dutch collectors to the genre of small bronze statuettes then fashionable in Italy. Relatively few of his works have survived to the present day. The theory that Goltzius saw—perhaps even owned—some of Tetrode's sculptures and used them as sources for his prints was first put forth in the 1970s. Scholars believe that Goltzius came in contact with Tetrode's work in a number of ways, perhaps through artists Adriaen de Weerdt, who made engravings after Tetrode. Another theory is that Goltzius and Tetrode encountered one another while they were both in Cologne in the 1550s.
Art historians have relied on visual evidence to support the theory, evidence that has previously been scarce due to the limited number of Tetrode's bronzes that are available. Goltzius and the Third Dimension marks the first opportunity to bring together the bronzes and prints. The exhibition features three statuettes by Tetrode: Hercules Pomarius, Nude Warrior/Deity, and Hercules and Antaeus. In comparing the bronzes with the prints, catalogue co-author Stephen Goddard was able to visually confirm the relationships. For example, Tetrode's Hercules Pomarius corresponds to several different Goltzius prints, including The Great Hercules and pieces from The Roman Heroes. Two different figures in Metamorphoses seem to have originated in Tetrode's work: Mars appears to have legs from Hercules Pomarius and the torso of the Nude Warrior, while Saturn resembles Hercules Pomarius from the waist down, but seen from the back.
When the sculptures and prints were brought to the Clark to be photographed for the accompanying catalogue, new discoveries were made. The juxtaposition of Goltzius's heroic male nudes, including the cycle of The Roman Heroes (1586), The Massacre of the Innocents (c. 1587-89), Ovid's Metamorphoses (1589), and The Great Hercules (1589), with Tetrode's bronzes suggests that Goltzius indeed translated different angles and poses of arms, legs, backs, and heads from the sculptures into his own works on paper. Clark photographers Michael Agee and Merry Armata used digital technology to photograph Tetrode's sculptures from angles that corresponded with details in Goltzius's prints, identifying angles that most closely corresponded to the prints. Digital photography allowed the photographers to instantly see and compare the different angles, taking in close details, viewing the sculpture in different light, and even reversing the poses to compare them to prints. During the photography process the new evidence was so persuasive that it was decided to use them in an interactive format so that visitors could see the comparisons for themselves and form their own opinions. The interactive program is also available online at http://clarkart.edu/exhibitions/goltzius/.
The prints and bronzes in Goltzius and the Third Dimension are all drawn from the private collection of the Hearn Family Trust, with the exception of one loan from the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The exhibition is on view at the Clark from October 7, 2001 through January 6, 2002. It will travel to the Spencer Museum at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, from March 30 through May 26, 2002.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May. For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.