Dutch Golden Age painting
The great wealth acquired by the Northern Netherlands in the seventeenth century triggered a huge boom in painting. Countless artists created peerless masterpieces, which now occupy pride of place in museums worldwide and in St Petersburg’s State Hermitage museum in particular. History paintings, landscapes, portraits, still lifes, scenes of everyday life, seascapes and church interiors were all depicted in Golden Age studios with an almost inconceivable display of imagination.
Some outstanding painters, like Rembrandt, mastered a variety of genres but many artists concentrated on just one kind of painting. This intense specialization is a distinctive feature of seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Among the genres represented in this exhibition will be biblical scenes by Lastman and Wtewael, portraits by Rembrandt, Hals, Flinck and others, still lifes by Bol, Heda and Kalf, genre paintings by Dou, Steen and Ter Borch, landscapes by Ruisdael and Van Goyen, and town views by Berckheyde and Van der Heyden.
Dutch Golden Age painting displays a unique and distinctive creativity and individuality. There was an unceasing flow of talented new artists with their own personal styles. And productivity was enormous. Time and again, foreign visitors to the Northern Netherlands expressed astonishment at the profusion of paintings in ordinary homes. Art was not the preserve of the fabulously rich. Even the poor could find the few coppers needed to buy a print, while the more affluent crowded their walls with paintings, even hanging them in the kitchen. Several million paintings are thought to have been produced during the period. In the eighteenth century, they were to become more and more popular outside the Northern Netherlands, particularly among the extremely wealthy.