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21 Jun 2017

'The Philosopher and his Pupils' travels to Edinburgh

A close-up of an old painting, showing an older bearded man sitting at a table with younger boy pupils sitting around him. They are listening as he talks.
The Philosopher and his Pupils
Brodie Castle’s Van der Vliet painting is part of the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition at the National Galleries of Scotland.

The Beyond Caravaggio exhibition is a great opportunity to see this painting alongside others by Caravaggio – the bad boy of 17th-century Italian art – and his followers.

The Philosopher and his Pupils normally hangs on the first-floor landing in Brodie Castle, making quite an impact as visitors come down the staircase. When the Trust began caring for the castle in 1980, the painting was sent away for cleaning and restoration, where its significance was revealed. The name of the artist was uncovered as Willem van der Vliet (c1584–1642) – he was a Dutch Golden Age painter and a contemporary of Caravaggio and Rembrandt.

We have around 300 paintings at Brodie, but very few records of how they came into the family collection. At the moment, curators believe that the Dutch art may have been collected by William, 22nd Brodie of Brodie (1799–1873). William is known to have travelled on the Continent at a time when Dutch art was popular in Scotland. We hope that further evidence will turn up in the archives with more detail than the rather sketchy known account of his travels, which states merely ‘I bought a painting’!

Beyond Caravaggio, which runs from 17 June to 24 September 2017 at the National Galleries of Scotland, is the first major exhibition in Britain to explore the work of Caravaggio through the prism of his influence on his contemporaries and followers.

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