Before the euro

January 23, 1998

CONVULSIONS in Asia obscure the profound changes Europe is undergoing, enlarging and unifying at once. Whether to expand NATO is no longer subject to debate; it is happening. Whether the 15 members of the European Union, a single market for goods and labor, should get a single currency is moot. By New Year's Day, most of them will have it. At the same time, 11 more countries are scheduled for negotiations to join that club.

Which adds prescience to the show of 17th-century painters from Utrecht, the Netherlands, which is at the Walters Art Gallery and will move to London's National Gallery. These are the Dutch artists who painted like Italians of the period, the Protestants whose art looked Catholic, the Northerners who seemed Mediterranean. They created theatrically lighted scenes from Christian Scripture and classical myth, not the domestic austerities of everyday life celebrated by the more famous Dutch painters.

As though a reminder were needed that there was European culture before there were national differences. And that the move to European unity has much older roots than this.

Pub Date: 1/23/98

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