Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 36
 
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
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Princeton Woman Tapped to Lead Top Dutch Museum in The Hague

Linda Arntzeniu

Former Princeton resident Emilie Gordenker has been appointed as director of the Mauritshuis in The Netherlands, one of the world's leading art museums.

She will succeed current director Frits Duparc in January after a brief period of transition.

Currently, Ms Gordenker is a senior curator of early Netherlandish, Dutch, and Flemish art at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Born and raised in Princeton, Ms. Gordenker attended Riverside School and John Witherspoon Middle School, and graduated from Princeton High School in 1983.

She completed her undergraduate studies magna cum laude at Yale University and studied art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Her 1998 dissertation was published in book form in 2001 as Careless Romance: Van Dyck and Costume in Seventeenth Century Portraiture.

A frequent visitor to her hometown, where her father Leon Gordenker is Professor Emeritus of Politics and Faculty Fellow Emeritus of the Princeton Institute of International and Regional Studies, Ms. Gordenker commented on her appointment by email from Edinburgh: "I am thrilled and honored to take on the leadership of the Mauritshuis."

Ms. Gordenker has worked as a freelance art historian for The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Frick Collection, among others. She has taught at Rutgers University and Vassar College.

After moving to London in 1999, she worked on various projects in the area of new media before taking up her current position in Edinburgh in 2003.

Thanks to her Dutch mother and frequent visits to the Netherlands, Ms. Gordenker speaks fluent Dutch with no discernable American accent.

The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis has paintings by Dutch artists Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Paulus Potter, and Frans Hals, and works of the German painter Hans Holbein the Younger.

Its collection of some 800 paintings contains some of the world's most famous 17th century artworks such as Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, Potter's The bull, and Hals's Laughing boy.

Housed in the former residence of Count John Maurice of Nassau, the museum collaborates regularly with museums in other countries.

"Ms. Gordenker is a respected art historian with thorough knowledge of the Maurithuis' collecting area," said Antony Burgmans, chairman of the Mauritshuis' Supervisory Board. "Moreover, she has knowledge of and experience in business. We are convinced that she will be able to continue the excellent work of Frits Duparc."

Mr. Duparc has led the museum since 1991. During his tenure, the museum mounted numerous thematic exhibitions, including a 1996 Vermeer show that attracted some 450,000 visitors, and oversaw the restoration of significant works including Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and View of Delft and Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson.

"I have every confidence that my successor, together with the museum's dedicated staff, will continue to build on the museum's successful policy in the past years with respect to exhibitions, education, public relations, acquisitions, publications and restorations," he commented.

"I look forward with great enthusiasm to leading this extraordinary museum, working with its talented staff, and sustaining and even improving its exceptional collection," said Ms. Gordenker.

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