17th-Century Dutch Art

Christopher Atkins

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online August 2011 | | DOI:
17th-Century Dutch Art

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


Show Summary Details


Artistic production in the long 17th century in the Dutch Republic radically reenvisioned the forms of visual culture and its consumption. In the wake of the Dutch Revolt of 1579 that severed the formerly conjoined Low Countries into the largely Catholic regions of Flanders, controlled by the Spanish Habsburgs, and the predominately Protestant Dutch Republic, which fought for the political independence that it officially achieved in 1648, Dutch art developed a distinctive, if not revolutionary, character. During the period, there was a multifaceted and unprecedented flowering of diverse secular genres, from still life to landscape to genre image to portrait. Each of these types of subjects had historical precedent, but they had not existed as independent genres complete with individuals who specialized in the creation of just one category of art. Many artists employed a highly naturalistic mode of representation when crafting these secular genres, as did those who produced the histories and biblical narratives that also remained popular. In paintings and prints, artists largely strove for naturalistic representations of space, volumetric renderings of objects, seemingly accurate depictions of light, and unidealized formulations of the human body, especially the face. As a result, audiences have frequently labeled 17th-century Dutch art as “scenes of everyday life.” The seemingly truthful appearance of these images has led to a complex body of literature that has proffered myriad interpretive schemata to understand the meanings of individual pictures, the genres of representation, and the aesthetics of naturalism. Like the new forms, art was consumed in way that it had not been previously. The relatively wide distribution of wealth in the Dutch Republic led to more people, and people of different social levels, buying art than had occurred previously in Europe. In turn, the consumption of art operated on an unprecedented scale. Several million new paintings were created in the region in a little over one hundred years. Aside from portraiture, few of these objects were created on commission. Rather, various indirect methods of exchange emerged, creating an open art market.

Article.  14861 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.