Slavery: the groundbreaking Dutch exhibition confronting colonial history

Plus, Leonora Carrington's Surrealist children's book behind the next Venice Biennale and Rubens's landscapes reunited after 200 years

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Enslaved man working on the fields by an unknown artist (around 1850) Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum. Purchased with support from the Johan Huizinga Fonds/ Rijksmuseum Fonds

This week, we look at a much anticipated exhibition, Slavery at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum is the Netherlands’ national art and history museum and the curators of the exhibition state in the catalogue that the country’s colonial past has been "insufficiently examined in the national history of the Netherlands, including at the Rijksmuseum”.

Two Rembrandt portraits on view in the Rijksmuseum's Slavery exhibition Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum. Photo: Albertine Dijkema

Ben Luke talks to Valika Smeulders, head of history at the Rijksmuseum and one of the four curators of the exhibition, focusing on several works in the show and exploring the people—from enslaved men and women to wealthy Amsterdam denizens who benefit from slavery—who feature in the exhibition.

Also in this episode: as next year’s Venice Biennale is named after The Milk of Dreams, a children’s book by the Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, Ben talks to Joanna Moorhead, a relative of Carrington’s and the author of The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington, about the stories, what they tell us about the author, and what they might mean for the next Venice Biennale.

Peter Paul Rubens’s two landscape masterpieces The Rainbow Landscape and A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning Photo: Courtesy of Xavier Bray

And this episode’s Work of the Week is actually two works: Peter Paul Rubens’s two landscape masterpieces The Rainbow Landscape and A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning, which have been reunited for the first time in 200 years at the Wallace Collection in London.

The Week in Art podcast by The Art Newspaper is available every Friday on our website and all the usual places where you find podcasts. This podcast is sponsored by Christie's.