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Venite, adoremus: Geertgen tot Sint Jans and the Adoration of the Kings

22 September 2007 to 27 January 2008

The ‘dossier' exhibition at the Oskar Reinhart Collection ʻAm Römerholz̕  explored the connections between one of the collection's most remarkable paintings, an Adoration of the Kings dating from c. 1495, and one of the first great artists from the northern Netherlands, Geertgen tot Sint Jans (c. 1465 - c. 1490/95). Attention focused primarily on a comparison of the Winterthur panel with versions of the same subject by Geertgen in other collections. The juxtapositions shed new light not only on the links between the various Adorations, but also on the oeuvre of the artist as a whole and the work of his followers. 

The exhibition was enriched by documentation relating to the recent conservation of the Winterthur picture, undertaken by Bruno Heimberg at the Doerner Institute of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich. Removal of several later retouchings revealed the original painting and helped to clarify the relationship between the panel and Geertgen's work. This issue was addressed by two acknowledged experts on Early Netherlandish painting, Stephan Kemperdick and Jochen Sander. The Winterthur Adoration had been repeatedly attributed to Geertgen and then disattributed. Controversies of this kind are almost the rule with medieval works of art, which are rarely authenticated by signatures or contemporary documents. The historical and artistic relationships brought to light by the exhibition led the Winterthur panel to be attributed to a follower of Geertgen. As a result, both Geertgen's work and that of the subsequent generation of painters became more clearly defined. 

Geertgen tot Sint Jans and the Adoration of the Kings was the second in a series of ‘dossier' exhibitions inaugurated at the Oskar Reinhart Collection ʻAm Römerholz̕  in 2005 with Division and revison: Manet's ‘Reichshoffen' revealed. The exhibitions present the results of the latest research with regard to a specific work in the collection, opening up new perspectives and avenues of approach for experts while offering the general public an exciting opportunity to share in art historians' efforts to uncover the truth.

The catalogue accompanying the exhibition was published by Hirmer Verlag, Munich, in a German and an English edition.


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