1.3.3.1 Dutch Golden Age – 1581-1672

Forward to 1.3.3.2 Baroque A (1594-1740s)
Back to 1.3.3 Baroque Index – Back to 1.3 Renaissance to Romanticism – Forward to 1.3.4 Rococo

QUICK LINKS
The Laughing Cavalier, Hals
Self-portrait as a Young Man, Rembrandt
Anatomy Lesson, Rembrandt
Lady 62, Rembrandt
Sea of Gallilee, Rembrandt
Belshazzar’s Feast, Rembrandt
Night Watch, Rembrandt
The Bull, Potter
River Landscape, Ruysdael
Aristotle Homer, Rembrandt
The Goldfinch, Fabritius
Bathsheba Letter, Rembrandt
Jan Six, Rembrandt
Officer Laughing Girl, Vermeer
Jacob sons of Joseph, Rembrandt
Little Street, Vermeer
The Milkmaid, Vermeer
View of Delft, Vermeer
Claudius Civilis, Rembrandt
Young Woman Jug, Vermeer
Woman Balance, Vermeer
Woman Pearl Necklace, Vermeer
Cloth Makers Guild, Rembrandt
Music Lesson, Vermeer
The Concert. Vermeer
The Artist’s Studio, Vermeer
Girl Pearl Earring, Vermeer
Isaac and Rebecca, Rembrandt
Art of Painting: an Allegory, Vermeer
Suicide of Lucretia, Rembrandt
Girl Red Hat, Vermeer
Return of Prodigal, Rembrandt
The Astronomer, Vermeer
The Geographer, Vermeer
Self-Portrait, Rembrandt
The Lacemaker, Vermeer
The Love Letter, Vermeer
Mill at Wijk, Ruisdael

The Dutch Golden Age is one of the finest examples of independence breeding cultural pride. During the 17th century, driven by new freedom from Spanish Catholic rule, the Dutch Republic experienced a surge in economic and cultural prominence. An influx of trade boosted commerce, leading to the rise of a large middle and merchant class in the market for the proliferation of art that had cropped up in response to the burgeoning celebration of Dutch life and identity. Painting flowered as artists focused on everyday scenes of ordinary life, expressed through a growing cadre of genre works, all indicative of the thriving creative period.

[Source: theartstory.org]

[1331-10]


Image soutce: Wikimedia commons
In this exuberant half-length portrait, a young man poses, arm rakishly akimbo, against a plain grey background. The work is unique in Hals’s male portraiture for the rich colour that is largely imparted by the sitter’s flamboyant costume: a doublet embroidered with fanciful motifs in white, gold and red thread, with a gilded rapier pommel visible at the crook of his elbow.

The motifs embroidered on the sitter’s doublet include arrows, flaming cornucopiae and lovers’ knots, allusions to gallantry and courtship, they may indicate that the work was painted as a betrothal portrait. It has also been suggested that the motifs allude to an occupation in commerce.

Neither the identity of the sitter nor the function of the portrait has yet been firmly established. One source has recently proposed that the sitter is Tieleman Roosterman, a wealthy Harlem textile merchant.
[Source: wallacecollection.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Laughing Cavalier, The1625Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Hals, Frans1580-1666, aged 86Dutch painter HaarlemDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-47]

Wallace Collection, London UK83 x 67  
At just 22 and as inexperienced as he was, the young Rembrandt does not shy away from experimenting.

Here he uses chiaroscuro so that the light rakes his right cheek while the rest of his face is enveloped in shadow. It takes a moment to realise that he is peering out at you.

Rembrandt accentuated the curls of his tousled hair by drawing in the wet paint with the other end of his paintbrush.
(Source: rijksmuseum.nl)


Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Self-Portrait as a Young Man1628Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-11]

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam NL23 x 19  

Rembrandt was only twenty-five when he was asked to paint the portraits of the Amsterdam surgeons. The painting was commissioned for the anatomy lesson given by Dr Nicolaes Tulp in January 1632.

Rembrandt portrayed the surgeons in action, with them all looking at different things. Dynamism is added to the scene by the great contrasts between light and dark.

In this group portrait, the young painter displayed his legendary technique and his great talent for painting lifelike portraits. [Source: mauritshuis.nl]

Image source: Wikimedia commons

TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, The1632Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-12]

Mauritshuis, The Hague, NL170 x 216  


Image source: Wikimedia commons
Several oval portraits of a woman of 17th-century Amsterdam have survived, and sometimes these were pendants and sometimes they were individual portraits. This painting, without a pendant, has been attributed to Rembrandt since the 19th century.

Portrait of a 62-year-old Woman, shows an elderly woman. She sits, inclined to the left, looking out of the picture. Over her bright black gown she wears a cape trimmed with dark fur. She has a small and sober millstone collar, her hair is covered by a close-fitting cap with projecting side-flaps. The sitter may be Aeltje Pietersdr Uylenburgh.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Lady, Age 62, Portrait of a 1632OilPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-13]

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston USA74 x 56  
Rembrandt’s most striking narrative painting in America, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, is also his only painted seascape.

Dated 1633, it was made shortly after Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam from his native Leiden, when he was establishing himself as the city’s leading painter of portraits and historical subjects. The detailed rendering of the scene, the figures’ varied expressions, the relatively polished brushwork, and the bright coloring are characteristic of Rembrandt’s early style.

The biblical scene pitches nature against human frailty – both physical and spiritual. The panic-stricken disciples struggle against a sudden storm, and fight to regain control of their fishing boat as a huge wave crashes over its bow, ripping the sail and drawing the craft perilously close to the rocks in the left foreground. One of the disciples succumbs to the sea’s violence by vomiting over the side. Amidst this chaos, only Christ, at the right, remains calm, like the eye of the storm.
[Source: gardnermuseum.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Storm on the Sea of Gallilee, The1633Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-14]

Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, Boston USA160 x 128  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
In his great dramatic painting, Rembrandt tells a story from the Old Testament (Daniel 5: 1–5, 25–8). The man in the gold cloak, enormous turban and tiny crown is Belshazzar, King of Babylon.

His father had robbed the Temple of Jerusalem of all its sacred vessels. Using these to serve food at a feast, as Belshazzar does here, was seen as sacrilege.

In the middle of the party, a clap of thunder came as a warning. God’s hand appeared from a cloud and wrote in Hebrew script: ‘You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.’ Within hours, Belshazzar was dead.
[Source: nationalgallery.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Belshazzar’s Feast1635Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-15]

National Gallery, London UK168 x 209  
Rembrandt’s largest and most famous painting was made for one of the three headquarters of Amsterdam’s civic guard. These groups of civilian soldiers defended the city from attack. Rembrandt was the first to paint all of the figures in a civic guard piece in action.

The captain, dressed in black, gives the order to march out. The guardsmen are getting into formation. Rembrandt used the light to focus on particular details, like the captain’s gesturing hand and the young girl in the foreground. She was the company mascot. The nickname Night Watch originated much later, when the painting was thought to represent a nocturnal scene.
[Source: rijksmuseum.nl]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Night Watch, The1642Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-16]

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam NL363  x 437  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
This is one of the most famous paintings in the Mauritshuis.

What makes The Bull so special is the fact that Potter painted something as ordinary as a bull on such a grand scale – which had never been done before. And despite this large size, he paid great attention to the smallest details, such as the lark in the sky, the sunshine on the meadow, the flies on the bull’s back and the cow’s whiskers.

This made the painting the epitome of Dutch naturalistic painting.
[Source: mauritshuis.nl]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Bull, The1647Oil/CanvasAnimal Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Potter, Paulus1625-1654, aged 29Dutch painterDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-17]

Mauritshuis, The Hague, NL236 x 339  
The masterful River Landscape with Ferry has a visual force that reflects the sense of pride the Dutch felt at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Münster in 1648, which gave full autonomy to the Dutch Republic. After war of independence from Spanish rule that lasted eighty years, the Dutch set out to explore the myriad visual delights of the prosperous country that they could finally claim as their own.

The work is imposing in scale and visually compelling, both for its harmonious composition and for the rich variety of its pictorial elements. It has wonderful atmospheric qualities, subtle reflections in the water, and delightful figures crowded into the ferryboat. The large clump of trees centers the composition and provides a sturdy framework for the animals and humans activating the scene. Ruysdael also effectively used these trees to open the sense of space, for not only does the ferryboat pass before them, but wagons loaded with passengers also travel the track behind them.
[Source: nga.gov]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
River Landscape with Ferry1649Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Ruysdael, Saloman van1602-1670, aged 68Dutch painterDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-18]

Mauritshuis, The Hague, NL102 x 135  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
This painting conveys Rembrandt’s meditation on the meaning of fame.

The richly clad Greek philosopher Aristotle rests his hand pensively on a bust of Homer, the epic poet who had attained literary immortality with his Iliad and Odyssey centuries before.

Aristotle wears a gold medallion with a portrait of his powerful pupil, Alexander the Great; perhaps the philosopher is weighing his own worldly success against Homer’s timeless achievement.

Although the work has come to be considered quintessentially Dutch, it was painted for a Sicilian patron at a moment when Rembrandt’s signature style, with its dark palette and almost sculptural buildup of paint, was beginning to fall out of fashion in Amsterdam. [Source: metmuseum.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer1653Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-19]

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY USA144 x 137  
A goldfinch is sitting on its feeder, chained by its foot. Goldfinches were popular pets, as they could be taught tricks like drawing water from a bowl with a miniature bucket.

This is one of the few works we know by Fabritius. He painted the goldfinch with clearly visible brushstrokes. He depicted the wing in thick yellow paint, which he scratched with the handle of his brush.
[Source: mauritshuis.nl]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Goldfinch, The1654Oil/PanelAnimal Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Fabritius, Carel1622-1654, aged 32Dutch painterDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-20]

Mauritshuis, The Hague, NL34 x 23  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
 Considered to be one of Rembrandt’s greatest portrait paintings and a masterpiece of 17th century Dutch Realism.

This piece of Biblical art illustrates a scene from the second book of Samuel (11:2-27). One evening while pacing the roof of his palace King David observed the beautiful Bathsheba bathing. She was the daughter of Eliam and wife of his neighbour, Uriah the Hittite, who was away in the army. Totally smitten, he summoned her by letter to the palace, as a result of which she became pregnant.

Later he arranged for Uriah to be sent into the heaviest fighting, where he was killed. David then married Bathsheba, for which he was later punished by God.
[Source: visual-arts-cork.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Bathsheba Holding King David’s Letter1654Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-21]

Musée du Louvre, Paris France142 x 142  
 One of the greatest portraits of 17th century Dutch painting, the work reflected the close friendship between Rembrandt and his patron, the Huguenot merchant, magistrate, playwright and art collector Jan Six.

In 1647, Rembrandt produced an etching of his friend, in 1648, he was responsible for the frontispiece for Six’s play Medea, and in 1652 he executed two drawings for Six’s Album Amicorum. In 1653, Jan Six bought three of Rembrandt’s paintings from the 1630s. The following year he gave the artist an interest-free loan of 1,000 guilders.

In 1654, Rembrandt painted the portrait (which remains in the hands of the Six family), but soon afterwards the pair fell out, and in 1656 Jan Six asked Govert Flinck, a former pupil of Rembrandt’s, to paint the portrait of his fiancee.
[Source: visual-arts-cork.com]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Jan Six1654Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-22]

Six Collection, Amsterdam NL112 x 102  

Image source: passionforpaintings.com
Officer and Laughing Girl includes many characteristics of Vermeer’s style.

The main subject is a woman in a yellow dress, light is coming from the left-hand side of the painting from an open window, and there is a large map on the wall. Each of these elements occur in some of his other paintings, although this painting differs slightly with the man also sitting at the table.

Art historians, who have suggested conflicting interpretations of the work, believe that a painting by Gerard van Honthorst inspired the composition and that Vermeer used a camera obscura to create the perspective in this painting.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Officer and a Laughing Girl1655-60Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-23]

Frick Collection, New York USA50 x 46  
Rembrandt always thought of himself as a history painter, a painter of scenes from the Bible, classical history and mythology. This is one of Rembrandt’s greatest achievements as a history painter.

The subject is taken from the book of Genesis, chapter 48. The dying patriarch Jacob is shown blessing his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh. Their father Joseph and his wife Asenath stand behind the children. Rather than blessing the eldest son, the dark Manasseh, with his right hand, Jacob gave his first blessing to the younger, the fair-haired Ephraim. Joseph thought that his father had made a mistake but Jacob replied ‘I know it, my son, I know it; he also shall become a prophet, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.’ It was later claimed by the early fathers of the church, notably Ambrose and Augustine, that Ephraim was the ancestor of the Christians and Manasseh of the Jews.
[Source: wga.hu]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph1656Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-24]

Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, Hesse Germany173 x 209  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
This is an unusual painting in Vermeer’s oeuvre, and remarkable for its time as a portrait of ordinary houses. The composition is as exciting as it is balanced.

The old walls with their bricks, whitewash, and cracks are almost tangible. The location is Vlamingstraat 40–42 in Delft. Vermeer’s aunt Ariaentgen Claes lived in the house at the right, with her children, from around 1645 until her death in 1670. [Source: rijksmuseum.nl]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Little Street, The1657-1658Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-25]

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam NL54 x 44  
A maidservant pours milk, entirely absorbed in her work. Except for the stream of milk, everything else is still. Vermeer took this simple everyday activity and made it the subject of an impressive painting – the woman stands like a statue in the brightly lit room. Vermeer also had an eye for how light by means of hundreds of colourful dots plays over the surface of objects.
[Source: rijksmuseum.nl]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Milkmaid, Thec1658Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-26]

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam NL46 x 41  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
This is the most famous cityscape of the Dutch seventeenth century. The interplay of light and shade, the impressive cloudy sky and the subtle reflections in the water make this painting an absolute masterpiece.

We are looking at Delft from the south. There is hardly a breath of wind and the city has an air of tranquillity. Vermeer reflected this tranquillity in his composition, by making three horizontal strips: water, city and sky. He also painted the buildings a bit neater than they actually were.
[Source: mauritshuis.nl]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
View of Delftc1660-1Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-27]

Mauritshuis, The Hague, NL98 x 118  
The Roman historian Tacitus described the beginning of the revolt during the 2nd century by the Germanic Batavian tribe against the Romans under the leadership of their chief, Claudius Civilis. The Batavians’ struggle for liberty was used in the 17th c as an emblem for Dutch liberation from Spanish rule.

The commission to depict the struggle for liberation by their ancestors originally went to Govaert Flinck, one of Rembrandt’s pupils. Flinck had hardly started the work before his sudden and untimely death. Rembrandt was then asked to complete the motif of the oath of loyalty, which was the only one Flinck had started.

Following tradition, Flinck placed the Batavians and Romans on equal terms, painting them in classical armour. Rembrandt chose instead to follow Tacitus’s account more closely. In Rembrandt’s interpretation of Tacitus, Claudius Civilis dominates the scene in his costly garments and tall blue and orange headdress.
[Source: artsandculture.google.com]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, The1661-2Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-28]

Nationalmuseum, Stockholm Sweden196 x 309  
Image source: metmuseum.orgStanding at an open window, a woman begins her day with ablutions from a gilt-silver pitcher and basin, with linen coverings protecting her dress and hair. The first work by Vermeer to enter an American collection.

This painting embodies the artist’s interest in domestic themes, giving an almost voyeuristic glimpse into the private life of a woman before she presents her public face to the world.
[Source: metmuseum.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Young Woman with a Water Jugc1662Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-29]

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY USA46 x 41  
Woman Holding a Balance is a superb example of Johannes Vermeer’s exquisite sense of stability and rhythm.

A woman dressed in a blue jacket with fur trim stands serenely at a table in a corner of a room. The scales in her right hand are at equilibrium, suggestive of her inner state of mind. A large painting of the Last Judgment, framed in black, hangs on the back wall of the room. A shimmering blue cloth, open boxes, two strands of pearls, and a gold chain lie on the sturdy table. Soft light comes in through the window and illuminates the scene. The woman is so pensive that the viewer almost hesitates to intrude on her quiet moment of contemplation.
[Source: nga.gov]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Woman Holding a Balance1662-1663Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-30]

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC USA42 x 38  

Image source: vermeer-foundation.org
This exquisite example of Dutch Realist genre painting contains a stillness and introspection that gives it a feeling of Eastern meditation. Indeed, several art historians see it as clear evidence of Vermeer’s interest in Chinese art and philosophy.

One of Vermeer’s #pearl pictures’, it is related to other works like Woman Holding a Balance (above) and Woman Writing a Letter, both in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC – both among the greatest genre paintings on show in America.

Characterized by Vermeer’s hallmark painting technique, including his soft-edge brushwork and yellow-blue-grey colour palette, it is as usual a masterclass in fine art painting. The picture, one of the treasures of 17th-Century Dutch painting, hangs in the Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Gemaldegalerie, Berlin.
[Source: visual-arts-cork.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Woman with a Pearl Necklacec1662-1664Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-31]

Nationalgalerie, Berlin Germany55 x 45  
After suffering financial difficulties in the 1650s, Rembrandt moved to a rental house on the Rozengracht. The Amsterdam élite no longer knocked on his door as often as they had done before.

He nevertheless remained popular: this important guild commissioned him to paint a group portrait. Rembrandt produced a lively scene by having the wardens look up from their work as if interrupted by our arrival.
[Source: rijksmuseum.nl]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Syndics of the Cloth-Makers Guild1662OilHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-32]

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam NL192 x 279  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Vermeer’s enigmatic work The Music Lesson is characterised by the artist’s remarkable use of perspective, drawing the viewer’s eye to the man and woman standing by the virginal at the back of the room.  In front of them, a bass viol lies on the floor. 

The Latin inscription on the lid of the virginal, Musica letitiae co[me]s / medicina dolor[is]’, means ‘Music is a companion in pleasure and a balm in sorrow.’ It suggests that the artist is exploring the relationship between the two figures. 

The presence of two musical instruments in the composition implies shared pleasures and a potential harmony.  This theme is echoed by the rapt expression on the man’s face, as he listens to the woman or sings as she plays on the virginal.
[Source: rct.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Music Lesson, The1662-5Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-33]

Royal Collection Trust, London UK73 x 65  
In a pristine domestic parlour, two women and a man concentrate on making music. The standing woman holds a sheet of music and raises her hand to beat time for her companions.

Turned enigmatically away from our gaze, the seated gentleman wears an elaborate decorated sash that indicates his membership in a civic militia.

Some scholars have been tempted to interpret Dutch musical scenes like this as moral warnings against seduction and illicit sex. Indeed, hanging on the wall at the right is a painting of a procuress by Dirck van Baburen. Although the subject of this painting-within-a-painting seems to suggest that something improper is taking place, the Procuress was in fact owned by Vermeer’s family. Moreover, the figures in the room are intently preoccupied with their music: they do not look at each other, and seem unaware they are being observed. Their intensity does not invite interruption.

Lying on the large table at left is a lute, while a viola da gamba lies on the floor. Are these instruments soon to be taken up by the trio, or are others to join the group?
[Source: gardnermuseum.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Concert. Thec1665Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-34]

Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, Boston USA69 x 63  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
The Art of Painting, also known as The Artist in His Studio and The Allegory of Painting, is a celebrated genre painting by Vermeer.

The largest example of Vermeer’s style of Dutch Realism, it is believed to be a full-blown allegory commenting on the art of painting and the artist’s role in society. It may be a self-portrait of himself in action, hence the work’s various titles.

In November 1940, it was purchased personally by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler from its owner Count Jaromir Czernin for a price of 1.65m Reichsmarks.

After the war it was seized by the Americans who handed it over to the Austrian government. It now resides in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
[Source: visual-arts-cork.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Artist’s Studio, The – aka Art of Painting: An Allegory1665-6Oil/CanvasStill Life
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-35]

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna Austria49 x 66  
Girl with a Pearl Earring is Vermeer’s most famous painting. It is not a portrait, but a ‘tronie’ – a painting of an imaginary figure. Tronies depict a certain type or character; in this case a girl in exotic dress, wearing an oriental turban and an improbably large pearl in her ear.

Vermeer was the master of light as shown here in the softness of the girl’s face and the glimmers of light on her moist lips. And of course, the shining pearl.
[Source: mauritshuis.nl]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Thec1665Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-36]

Mauritshuis, The Hague, NL44 x 39  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
To prevent being killed and having his wife captured by King Abimelech, Isaac concealed his love for Rebecca by pretending they were brother and sister.

However, their intimacy betrayed them when they thought they were not being spied on.

Rembrandt depicts them in a tender moment. Furthermore, he works with exceptional freedom, applies the paint thickly, and scratches into it with the butt end of his paintbrush.
[Source: rijksmuseum.nl]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Isaac and Rebecca: The Jewish Bridec1665-1668Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-37]

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam NL122 x 167  

Image source: johannesvermeer.org
This illusionistic painting is one of Vermeer’s most famous. In 1868 Thoré-Bürger, known today for his rediscovery of the work of painter Johannes Vermeer, regarded this painting as his most interesting. Svetlana Alpers describes it as unique and ambitious; Walter Liedtke as a virtuoso display of the artist’s power of invention and execution, staged in an imaginary version of his studio … According to Albert Blankert No other painting so flawlessly integrates naturalistic technique, brightly illuminated space, and a complexly integrated composition.
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Art of Painting: An Allegory1666-8Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):[1331-38]

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna120 x 100
Rembrandt tells the story of Lucretia through her solemn and saddened gaze, in the traces of blood on her gown, and the dagger in her hand. The wife of a Roman nobleman, Lucretia was known for her loyalty and virtue.

She was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, the son of the ruling tyrant. Lucretia revealed the crime to her husband and father, and, in their presence, took her own life. She chose death in order to prevent dishonour, at a time and place when a woman’s perceived virtue was more valuable than her life.
[Source: collections.artsmia.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Suicide of Lucretia, Thec1666Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-39]

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis USA110 x 93  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Girl with the Red Hat is one of Vermeer’s smallest works, and it is painted on panel rather than on his customary canvas.

The girl has turned in her chair and interacts with the viewer through her direct gaze. Girl with the Red Hat is portrayed with unusual spontaneity and informality. The artist’s exquisite use of color is this painting’s most striking characteristic, for both its compositional and its psychological effects.

Vermeer concentrated the two major colors in two distinct areas: a vibrant red for the hat and a sumptuous blue for the robe; he then used the intensity of the white cravat to unify the whole.
[Source: nga.gov]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Girl with the Red Hat1666-7Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-40]

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC USA23 x 18  
At one moment in his youth Rembrandt depicted himself in one of his many self-portraits as a reveller and as a spoilt child of fortune at the height of his fame and his powers, with a goblet in his hand and his beloved woman in his lap. His turning to the subject of the return of the prodigal son is a sort of finale to that story.

The artist painted the work just months before his death. It is hard to recognize the pale, emaciated, shattered man returning to the father whom he left in his youth as that same reckless pleasure-seeker, gambler and spendthrift, who asked his parent for his share of the inheritance and squandered it away down to the last coin.

What has become of his self-confidence and fine clothing? Everything impermanent has slipped from him like an empty husk. At the cost of suffering and losses he has gained insight. Entering his father’s house, miserable, sick and exhausted, he falls on his knees before his parent, who bends over him, full of love and forgiveness.

In the smoky twilight of the space the old man’s face shines like a star in the night sky: the light of consolation descends on the son. The red wrap over the old man’s shoulders forms a sort of canopy above the unhappy wanderer. The astonished witnesses look on in silence. [Source: hermitagemuseum.org]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Return of the Prodigal Son, The1666-1669Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-41]

State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia262 x 205  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
This painting and The Geographer (below) are probably companion pieces, in spite of the fact that the sitter is looking to the left in both of them. They are the only works in Vermeer’s oeuvre that represent male figures involved in scholarly pursuits.

It should be remembered that there was a rise of interest in scientific research at the time, fostered by the newly established University of Leyden, and philosophers like Descartes. So these had no religious associations, the aim was to explore the universe, and simultaneously to further Dutch navigation in its conquest of faraway lands.

Both paintings, with their interiors of scholarly studios and scientific paraphernalia, award Vermeer the opportunity for lightening effects that envelop the scientists in the mystery of an atmosphere that lifts their occupations into the realm of spirituality.
[Source: wga.hu]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Astronomer, The1668Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-42]

Musée du Louvre, Paris France51 x 45  
The geographer has just been measuring distances on a map with his compass; now, he pauses for thought. The globe and the map on the wall represent the state of the art of cartography, which the Netherlands pioneered. The former features Europe’s coastlines, the latter the Indian Ocean, an important body of water for the country’s maritime-trade-based economy.

Yet the work is neither a portrait nor does it tell a story. With painterly means, Vermeer endeavoured to capture the moment the geographer surveys the world in his mind.
[Source: sammlung.staedelmuseum.de]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Geographer, The1668-1669Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-43]

Städel Museum, Frankfurt Germany53 x 47  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
 This is one of three self portraits Rembrandt made just before his death in 1669. About 80 survive from his 40-year career, far more than any other artist of his time. He painted them for different reasons – to practise different expressions, to experiment with lighting effects, and also to sell to wealthy patrons and collectors.

In this one, Rembrandt is preoccupied with depicting the textures and colours of his own ageing face. The sagging fold beneath his right eye is made with the swirl of a heavily loaded brush. The blemishes on his forehead are formed of blotches of coagulated paint.

Many later writers and artists have interpreted this as intense, unflinching, existential honesty: Rembrandt coming to terms with the approach of death. But in the seventeenth century people had different ideas about self-analysis and how the mind works than we do now.

Rembrandt’s motives may have been more straightforward – driven less by soul-searching, and more by a professional fascination with the challenges of his art.
[Source: nationalgallery.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Self-Portrait at the age of 631669Oil/CanvasPortrait
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn1606-1669, aged 63Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-44]

National Gallery, London UK86 x 71  
The work shows a young woman dressed in a yellow shawl, holding up a pair of bobbins in her left hand as she carefully places a pin in the pillow on which she is making her bobbin lace.

At 25 x 21 cm, the work is the smallest of Vermeer’s paintings, but in many ways one of his most abstract and unusual.

The canvas used was cut from the same bolt as that used for A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals, and both paintings seem to have had identical dimensions originally.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Lacemaker, The1669-1670Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-45]

Musée du Louvre, Paris France25 x 21  

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Vermeer chose an unusual vantage point for this painting. From a dim space in the foreground, a glimpse is afforded of another room with a domestic scene.

An elegantly dressed woman looks up expectantly at a maidservant, who has just handed her a letter. The seascape on the wall behind them may well allude to the epistle’s subject: during the 17th century, the sea was often compared to love, and the lover to a ship.
[Source: rijksmuseum.nl]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Love Letter, The1669-1670Oil/CanvasGenre Painting
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vermeer, Johannes (Jan Vermeer van Delft)1632-1675, aged 43Dutch painter DelftDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1331-46]

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam NL44 x 39  
The windmill rises majestically, defying the dark rain clouds and overshadowing the castle and the church of Wijk bij Duurstede.

The River Lek flows in the foreground. This painting is world famous, and rightly so. In this impressive composition, Ruisdael united all the typical Dutch elements – the low-lying land, the water and the expansive sky – manipulating them to converge on the equally characteristic Dutch watermill.
[Source: rijksmuseum.nl]

Image source: rijksmuseumamsterdam.blogspot.com
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Mill at Wijk Near Duurstede, The1670Oil/CanvasLandscape
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Ruisdael, Jacob Isaackszon van1628-1682, aged 54Dutch painter AmsterdamDutch Golden Age
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):  
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam NL83 x 101  

Forward to 1.3.3.2 Baroque A (1594-1740s)
Back to 1.3.3 Baroque Index – Back to 1.3 Renaissance to Romanticism – Forward to 1.3.4 Rococo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.