Local lovers of Dutch art should be in seventh heaven about now. The Ter Borch survey is a rare treat, of course, but it also marks the end of a drought: The rooms housing the National Gallery's holdings of Dutch and Flemish art have been closed for almost two years for a complete rehang and renovation.
They're open now, and looking better than ever. Curator Arthur Wheelock has rearranged his pictures to better suit the walls they're on. He's also built his displays around loosely coherent themes: One gallery shows mostly still lifes; another features airy outdoor views at sea and in the countryside.
Wheelock is particularly proud of new acquisitions and important loans that fill out our picture of Northern European art. There's a newly purchased "Still Life With Swan and Game" by Jan Weenix, as flamboyant as such things come. And also a new Louis Vallee called "Silvio With the Wounded Dorinda" that shows off a narrative, Italianate aspect of Dutch art that tends not to get its due.
The reopened galleries shed new light on famous masters. A Rubens picture of one of the New Testament's Three Kings used to be considered a minor piece by Rubens's assistants; new document research shows that it's almost certainly by the master himself, and therefore worth a closer look. There's also a newly cleaned Van Dyck, and a reframed Frans Hals.
And, of course, there's the usual full complement of old favorites by Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer, as well as splendid rarities. "Banquet Piece with Oysters, Fruit, and Wine" by Osias Beert the Elder is irresistible. Hendrick Avercamp's "Golfing on Ice" will always guarantee a smile.
-- Blake Gopnik