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Ausstellungen : Archiv : Archiv 2007 : Gemaltes Licht
Die Stilleben von Willem Kalf (1619-1693)



Painted Light. The Still Lifes of Willem Kalf (1619-1693)

Willem Kalf, Stillleben mit Silberkanne, ca. 1655-57, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Willem Kalf, Stilleben mit vergoldeter Silberkanne, Maastricht, Kunsthandel Noortman Master Paintings Bäuerliches Interieur, im Hintergrund Frau am Kamin, Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Foto: Jörg P. Anders, Berlin

8 March - 3 June 2007

The Suermondt-Ludwig Museum in Aachen, in cooperation with the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, is showing for the first time the major works of Willem Kalf, the most important Dutch still-life painter of the "Golden Age". Loans from many museums and private collections in Europe and the USA have helped to make possible this first-time presentation of 40 of his works in a comprehensive solo exhibition.

Willem Kalf (1619-1693)
The still-life painter Willem Kalf was a master of thematic variation. His paintings are the expression of an intensive quest for the ideal effect achievable by means of a particular composition of objects.
It is recorded in the belles-lettres of the 17th century that Kalf's artistic virtuosity and the exquisite repertoire of subjects portrayed in his paintings were highly esteemed by his contemporaries. Appreciation of Kalf revived again at the end of the 19th century when the light in his paintings was compared to the light in the works of Rembrandt and Vermeer.  

The "farm interiors"
Both Holland and France were the locales of Kalf's artistic career. Born in 1619 in Rotterdam into a family of well-to-do merchants, he went in the early 1640s to Paris, where he used a home-town subject, the "farm interiors", to demonstrate his skill, quickly making a name for himself among art collectors. The "interiors" were small paintings in which human figures played a subordinate role. The artist's primary concern was to put still lifes in a picturesque rustic setting.

The Paris still lifes
In Paris Kalf began to paint pure still lifes, some of them on large canvasses and resplendent with precious metals, accordingly described as Prunkstilleben or opulent still lifes. These paintings mostly show pewter, silver and gold objects, selected by Kalf in order to demonstrate the effect and reflection of light on metallic surfaces.

The Amsterdam still lifes
In Amsterdam, where he lived from 1653 until his death in 1693, Kalf created the paintings establishing him as a "Vermeer of still-life painting": artful arrangements of choice and rare treasures, set off by a masterly use of lighting. Fruits and their intense colours become dominant motifs in many of Kalf's Amsterdam still lifes: Objects of nature and of the crafts mysteriously and luminously emerge from the dark backgrounds of the paintings. The fascinating play of light on myriads of varying surfaces – their reflections, refractions or transparency – these things become the real theme of his art.

The exhibition catalogue, published by the Deutscher Kunstverlag, contains colour reproductions of all exhibits as well as introductory essays on Kalf's life, the various phases of his work, and the objects on display.

Willem Kalf, Stillleben, London, National Gallery / Foto: Katalog

Painted Light
The Still Lifes of Willem Kalf (1619-1693)
8 March - 3 June 2007

Further information:

Suermondt-Ludwig Museum
Wilhelmstraße 18
52070 Aachen
fon: +49 (0)241 / 479800
fax: +49 (0)241 / 37075

Tue-Sun 12 - 6 p.m.
Wed 12 - 9 p.m.
from 8-18 March 2007:
Mon-Sun 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Wed 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Admission Euro 5 (Euro 3 reduced)
Catalogue: Euro 29.90 –  orders by telephone (0241-4798030) or e-mail (

Guided tours:
Public tours: every Saturday at 3 p.m.; on 10 and 17 March 2007, also at 11 a.m.
Meeting place: foyer
For other dates and times, please check the daily press or the Internet:

Group tours: 
advance registration by telephone (+49 (0)241 / 47980-20) or e-mail (

Accompanying exhibition programme:
Numerous concurrent events are scheduled.
Please check the daily press or the Internet:

Public transport / parking:
All bus lines stopping at Kaiserplatz
from the main railway station: bus lines 3 or 13 to Augustastraße
multi-storey car-parks: Adalbertsteinweg, Lothringerstraße

Willem Kalf, Stillleben, Staatl. Museen Berlin / Foto: Jörg P. Anders

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