To better comprehend this interesting exhibit, we need to explore the historical root ot the word "tronies"; it comes from 16th and 17th Dutch usage, meaning 'head', 'face' or'expression'. Tronies were particularly coveted by collectors, as examples of an artist'ssignature and over the course of the17th century, this particular form of painting became more emancipated, mostly encouraged by two young painters at the time: Jan Lievens and Rembrandt in Leiden.
In the south, Tronies created by prominet figures such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anton van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens, were also used to train artists in the workshops. Tronies were unusual: unlike normal portraits, they served no representative function, with isolated heads and neutral backgrounds. Also, the identity of the models was a complete minor matter and they were not defined by their content. Rather, they explored the spectrum of human physiognomy and expressiveness and reflected characterological ideas that belong to the early days of psychology.
The exhibition presents a selection of Tronies by late 16th century masters, including Frans Floris, the great Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, Van Dyck and Jordaens, Jan Lievens, Rembrandt and his students, as well as Michael Sweerts. Special emphasis is placed on the Haarlem School, with works by Leendert van der Cooghen, Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, Hendrick Goltzius and Judith Leyster.
In contrast, the exhibition al makes available works by Marlene Dumas, from all decades of her career. Dumas, who was born in 1953 in Cape Town and moved to Holland in 1976, bases her work primarily on photographic reproductions (from books, fashion or magazines), creating special images from not only well-known figures but also of crimes and catastrophes, Apartheid and stereotypes of racism. Marlene Dumas does not regard her representations of heads as portraits and the often larger-than-life painted faces do not allow specific psychological interpretations. Some examples: "Naomi", 1995 and ·The Pilgrim3 (2006). The survey of works is made complete with a selection of drawings from the multiple-part series "Females" (1992-93), "Jesus-Serene" (1994), "Models" (1994) and "Rejects" (1994-).