Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.
CHAPEL HILL — After years of anticipation, a collection of rarely exhibited drawings by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn is now on display at the Ackland Art Museum.
The Ackland’s newest exhibit, “Drawn to Life: Master Drawings from the Age of Rembrandt in the Peck Collection” includes dozens of 17th and 18th century drawings by Dutch and Flemish artists, including five sketches by Rembrandt, who died in 1669.
They’re all from the Peck Collection, which the Ackland received in 2017. It was the largest ever gift for the UNC-Chapel Hill art museum, courtesy of the late UNC alumnus Sheldon Peck, and his wife, Leena Peck. This vast collection, valued at $17 million, included 134 Dutch and Finnish drawings.
“Drawn to Life,” with 70 pieces of work, is the first time many of these drawings will be on view to the public since the donation. The museum notes that many can only be on display for short periods of time because they’re sensitive to light.
While Rembrandt’s paintings and portraits from the Dutch Golden Age famously strike viewers with awe and a radiant glow, these drawings tell a vastly different story. This collection features more understated works that are meant to be looked at for longer periods of time.
Filled with humor and humanity, these sketches speak to a change in artistic ethos during this era. Instead of crafting idyllic landscapes, Rembrandt and his contemporaries began creating more true to life images marked with slight imperfections and honest depictions of their subjects, said Dana Cowen, Sheldon Peck Curator for European and American Art before 1950.
“Drawings are so intimate,” Cowen said. “The more you look at them, the more time you spend with them, the more you see.”
Cowen invites visitors to meditate in these drawings and allow themselves to slip into the world of the artist to meet the peculiar cast of characters depicted across the exhibit.
One of Cowen’s personal favorites is Frans van Mieris’ “Head of A Woman Looking Downward.” This simple profile drawing, as the title suggests, depicts a woman posing for an artist deep in thought.
The collection includes drawings by artists Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan van Goyen and Adriaen van Ostade.
The exhibit is open through Dec. 31, before it is moved to the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam in March.
The museum says the Peck Collection helped establish it as one of a “handful of university art museums in the United States where scholars and students can study northern European drawings in-depth.”
Sheldon Peck, one of the museum’s major benefactors, was a Durham native who died in April 2021. He was 79 and an orthodontic specialist, educator and art collector. Leena Peck, who grew up in Finland, died in 2019 at the age of 73, The Boston Globe reported.
“Their collecting was fueled by a scholarly pursuit and natural curiosity to explore how masterful artists captured a slice of humanity and truth in their works,” according to Sheldon Peck’s obituary.
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.
CONNELLY SPRINGS — A woman who was killed in a house fire earlier this month has been identified.

Two people were killed — the 53-year-old driver of a pickup truck and a 10-year-old passenger of an SUV — and two other people were airlifted to regional hospitals following a two-vehicle wreck on East Court Street Sunday evening near the WestRock plant in Marion.
A man found dead on the side of a street in Morganton has been identified.

Listen to a man call 911 while he’s being held at gunpoint by a woman who caused multiple hit-and-run collisions Tuesday morning on Interstate 40.

The Morganton Festival Scholarship Pageant crowned a new royal court this summer:
The incoming hurricane has prompted the cancellation of some events originally scheduled to take place this weekend, including:
As Hurricane Ian barrels into Florida, North Carolina emergency management officials were busy getting prepared for whatever the state may see…
In his 50 years of service as chief of West End Fire Department, Randall Brackett has had a hand in every move the department has made.
DENVER, N.C. — A U.S. deputy marshal assigned to the Western District of North Carolina has been charged with stealing from Walmart on five se…
HILDEBRAN — Details from troopers and eyewitnesses paint a chaotic image from the minutes before a woman was shot by a state trooper Tuesday m…
Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Shop Sephari