Double Dutch: MFA Boston gets aligned gifts of 17th-century Netherlandish art, with work by Rubens, Rembrandt and van Dyck

The donation—the largest in the museum’s history—also include funds for a new study centre dedicated to the period

Gerrit Dou, Dog at Rest (1650) Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection, courtesy MFA Boston

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston has announced coordinated promised gifts of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish paintings from the local collectors Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie. “They want to share their collections well into the future and create a destination for scholarship at the MFA,” says a museum spokeswoman.

With 113 total works, the gifts nearly double the MFA’s collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings, and together are the largest gift of European art in the museum’s history. Seventy-six artists—including Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Anthony van Dyck and Rachel Ruysch—are represented in the double gift, which encompasses portraits, genre scenes, still lifes, landscapes and seascapes.

Willem van de Velde the Younger, A Dutch Flagship Coming to Anchor (around 1672) Susan and Matthew Weatherbie Collection, Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Van Otterloos and Weatherbies have also given funding for a new Center for the Study of Netherlandish Art, due to launch at the museum in 2020, which will focus on the study and conservation of the collection, set up programmes and exhibitions and collaborate with scholars, curators, conservators and institutions. The Van Otterloos have given a library of 20,000 volumes to be kept on-site, including monographs, catalogues and rare books, put together by the art historian Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann. The museum plans to hire a director for the centre.

While there are no plans now for gallery renovations, the museum is opening a temporary installation today, 11 October, in its Dutch and Flemish Galleries (until 15 January 2018) that mixes works from the current collection with pieces from both gifts. The show includes displays by subject, as well as four solo presentations on the still life artist Pieter Claesz, the landscape artist Isaacksz van Ruisdael, the seascape artist Willem van de Velde the Younger and the genre artist Jan Steen. “The museum will be able to tell a more complete story about these artists,” says the museum spokeswoman.