The Dutch Golden Age
In the seventeenth century, the Dutch Republic (what we now call Holland) was home to a rich and unique visual culture; it was also perhaps the first truly modern society. In this course, we will study Dutch pictures with a view to understanding the artistic concerns of their makers, as well as how their imagery related to the society for which they were made. Netherlandish artists had long had a reputation for meticulous craftsmanship and for careful observation and description of the visual world. In the seventeenth century, they turned their sights to local landscapes and cities, to portraiture and still life, and to scenes of daily life—domestic, commercial, and festive—while also producing great history paintings. We will consider the meaning and function of these various "genres" of painting, their status as art objects, and the goals of the artists—from the giants like Rembrandt and Vermeer to the more ordinary skilled craftsmen and thinkers—who made them.