Dutch Utopia: American Artists in The Netherlands, 1880-1914.

The Singer museum in Laren explores the work of forty-three American artists drawn to Holland during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These artists were among hundreds of Americans who traveled to the Netherlands between 1880 and 1914 to paint and to study. Some lived in Holland for decades, while others stayed only a week or two; but most passed quickly through the major cities to small rural communities, where they created picturesque idylls on canvas. Escaping from the rapid urbanization of their time, they established colonies in six communities, being small pre-industrial villages. Inspired by their pastoral surroundings and the traditions of seventeenth century Dutch art and the contemporary Hague school, these American artists created visions of Dutch society underpinned by a nostalgic way of premodern life. Some even alluded to America’s own colonial Dutch heritage or familiy background, exploring shared histories and cultural connections between the two countris. The exhibition, created in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name organized by the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, examines the appeal of Holland for American artists, in a time when France and Paris in particular were the centre of arts and culture. There are six themes: the influence of seventeenth century Dutch painting, the impact of the Hague School, antimodernism and the American Progressive Movement, points of convergence in national identities, the proliferation of artist colonies in Holland and the popular construction of “Dutchness” beyond the stereotypes of wooden shoes and wind mills.