The Dutch Golden Age: a little bit of one of the most famous parts of the Dutch history

The Dutch Golden Age is one of the Netherlands’ most famous time periods. It roughly spans the 17th century. During this time Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. In 1568, the Seven Provinces, which roughly formed what we now know as the Netherlands, started a rebellion against Phillip II of Spain, this led to the Eighty Years’ War. During that war, the war between England and Spain broke out. This forced the Spanish troops to retreat from most cities in the Low Countries. They were left to be in control of the important trading cities Bruges and Ghent. However, they no longer had control over Antwerp, which was then one of the most important ports in the world. After Antwerp fell, the division between the Northern and Southern Netherlands was established.
Dutch painters separated themselves from other painters in the world. In other countries, paintings were mostly made in request by or bought by rich aristocrats, during the Golden Age most paintings were bought by wealthy Dutch merchants. This influenced the subjects that were painted and the style they were painted in. Another difference is that the majority of the artworks were not made on commission. Popular genres were history painting, portraits, scenes of everyday life, landscapes, and still life paintings.

The leading museums in art expositions from the Dutch Golden Age

Many museums in the Netherlands have permanent, as well as temporary exhibitions on art work from the Golden Age. Especially the Rijksmuseum holds many pieces from that time. The worldly famous The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn, amongst many other of works can be seen in this museum. Other famous painters whose work can be found in the Rijksmuseum include Johannes Vermeer, Jacob van Ruisdael, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen. The museum holds a collection of more than 2.000 paintings from the Golden Age.

Currently the museum Hermitage Amsterdam has an exhibition on the Golden Age called Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age. The exhibition consists of 30 massive group portraits from the collections of the Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum. The paintings are being seen as ‘the brothers and sisters of The Night Watch’. These unique pieces have been rarely put on show due to their size. Discover who the rich merchants of the Golden Age were now at the Hermitage Amsterdam.

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