Around 1610, Dutch artist Hendrick Avercamp painted an exquisitely detailed winter scene of children and adults skating, ice-fishing and playing a game called "colf" on a frozen waterway, punctuated by three leafless trees beneath a leaden sky.
Believed to have been deaf and mute, Avercamp filled "Winter Landscape Near a Village" with utterly ordinary activities that still speak to viewers five centuries later: A child tugs an adult across the ice. Three men in tall hats and a woman with a high hairdo observe the scene. A man huddles in an outhouse fashioned from an upturned boat. A pair of boots dry on a fencepost.
Revealing beauty in the familiar, that winter landscape is just one of several wonderful surprises displayed in "Golden: Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection," a stunning new exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.
Visitors entering the show will find a container holding several magnifying glasses to help them better appreciate the details and fine craftsmanship in the paintings.
Chief Curator Lynda R. Hartigan said the artists in "Golden" created "stories so rich in composition we are compelled to look closely."
While their European predecessors had focused largely on portraits and religious paintings, 17th century Dutch and Flemish artists created human and natural landscapes that helped their viewers make sense of their own dramatically changing world.