• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Dutch paintings of the seventeenth century

Extracts from this document...


The seventeenth century was a period during which Dutch society underwent dramatic change. Spain's cultural and spiritual domination finally ended in 1648, after years of sporadic fighting, when Holland formally became recognised as a republic. This new status had a profound political, social, and economic effect on the country, which was reflected in the visual arts of the period. The role of patronage also underwent changes, as the artists could no longer rely on the support of the church and aristocracy, leaving painters to find alternative markets for their works. These new circumstances also led to conspicuous changes in the style and subject matter of their work. With the signing of the Treaty of Munster in 1648, Holland finally broke free from the domination of the Spanish Court, and adopted a democratic style of Government.(V:pg514.) The power of the Dutch crown was considerably reduced, and the monarch, Prince William of Orange became a figurehead rather than a ruler. The artists had depended almost entirely on the patronage of the nobility, who commissioned large works to grace the walls of their palaces and stately homes. But the changes in Holland and the constitutional reforms led to the privileges enjoyed by the aristocracy becoming curtailed at this time. This restriction of privilege ultimately led to many of the aristocracy leaving Holland, taking with them their artistic patronage. Those who stayed could no longer afford to order large and numerous works of visual art. As the struggle for independence became one "...for religious as well as civic liberty", (V: pg. 514.) the pervasive and controlling power of the Catholic Church and consequently its patronage, became diminished. As Protestantism, particularly Calvinist Protestantism took the place of Catholicism, art and the artists lost a great patron and commissioner, as paintings for ecclesiastical and didactic purposes became non existent. The Dutch Calvinists actively discouraged art and colourful adornment in their churches regarding it as a form of superstitious, iconic worship. ...read more.


will have some picture or other by the forge and in their stall"(I: pg3.) An immediate consequence of trading on the open market was the reduction in the size of the works. Large works for large houses, which had previously been produced by arrangement, were unsuitable for the more modest sized homes of the middle classes. The style and subject matter also changed dramatically, (VII: pg106.) as the "...religious and monarchic" art of earlier years did not represent the beliefs and type of society that the new patrons wanted. Consequently art became "...secular and civic"(VII: pg106.) and was dominated by works depicting everyday life, still life and landscapes. Dutch customers wanted pictures around them that reflected their way of life, their world, their moral values and their newly instilled national pride. As the new purveyors of art required a distinctive type of work to reflect their Calvinist beliefs, the use of "moralising genre" by painters such as Jan Vermeer, (V: pg521.) became far more important. Emblematic devices were not a new phenomenon, the Catholic Church were using them to convey their own particular message to the laity. These symbols had to be of a simplistic nature and easily recognisable, so that the message could be easily understood and interpreted correctly. The Dutch during this period were extremely concerned with sex and sexuality, using words that were closely interpolated in the Dutch language, so that a play on words could be used. For example, the Dutch word 'luit', the musical instrument the Lute, is also close to the Dutch word for Vagina. A Lute in an artist's work could be seen as a symbolic portrayal of a woman's sexuality. Emblematic devices were also used to portray moral issues and the dangers of decadence, which were seen by the Dutch as important issues of the day. Vices such as sexual impropriety, and virtues such as purity, were symbolised by in the former case, oysters and in the latter case, the Lily. ...read more.


The same civic and national pride did however; provide the artists with a few commissions of another kind. Since the demise of religious and aristocratic support, Dutch artists were rarely asked to paint on a large scale, but military groups were an exception. Holland was proud to honour its soldiers who had given them freedom from Spain, and the soldiers themselves wanted to display the fact that they had helped forge their country's independence. The most famous group portrait of this era was "The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem Van Rytenburch", more commonly known as "The Night Watch". Painted by Rembrandt in 1642, it typifies the camaraderie and bonhomie of the Dutch Militiamen whom, although by now no longer active soldiers, "... kept alive memories of the heroic days of struggle against authoritarian Spain..." (V: pg516.) Dutch paintings of the seventeenth century were produced in the main for purchase on the open market by individual middle class patrons. The prices paid were on the whole very low and painters "... saw their work as a business, with the hours of labour and cost of material determining the price they asked for"(II: pg36.). The relatively low cost of buying a painting meant an artist had to sell their works in quantity in order to make a living. Consequently artists had to paint pictures that people would buy. Middle class tastes of the day were for representations of everyday life combined with symbolic and moralistic overtones. Dutch artists responded by producing easel paintings of intimate size, which provided a concentration of content in which motifs of everyday life were portrayed with peculiar naturalism and careful craftsmanship. The art of this century was surely brought into being by its patrons, who dictated the type of art they wanted, and it is this patronage which has left the legacy of an extremely detailed record of Dutch society and culture in the seventeenth century. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Art & Design section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Art & Design essays

  1. To what Extent did the System of Patronage Effect Works of Art

    The painting was so innovative because, up to then, depictions of the Last Judgement had been arranged in an orderly fashion, in successive tiers, starting with the figure of Christ. Michelangelo, however, envisages it as a single explosion, and the painting is very energetic.

  2. Self, Body and Portrait

    While the characteristic qualities of self - portraits can be a means of self - examination, they have also been used as signatures and advertisements for an artist, and as experiments in techniques or expression. Rembrandt Self Portrait 16th century There are very few self - portraits before the sixteenth

  1. Surrealism - artists and techniques.

    The colours of the buildings do not vary much, and they usually consist of either, or a mix of yellow ochre, orange and red. This makes the buildings seem older and ancient. Without the varying colours used, more attention to the architecture of the buildings is given, which is what Chirico wanted people to see.

  2. Does Religious Art have any Relevance in Today's Society?

    I mean the mostly all resemble each other but Judaism was one that I thought had the exact same family life that I grew up to have.

  1. In What Ways Did Art Become More Widely Accessible in England in the Eighteenth ...

    encourage secular art, with an exception of perhaps portraiture, although this was only available for the wealthy due to high costs. Almost the only demand for painting was that of supplying likenesses and even this role was "met by foreign artists such as Holbein and Van Dyck, who were called to England after they had established their reputations abroad"10.

  2. The effect of Marvel Comics on popular culture in the twentieth century.

    Human Torch. Burgus died tragically in 1984. During their time, two other artists joined and had a major impact on Marvel comics. Their names were Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Today, they're not seen as a team except for their work on Captain America.

  1. An Examination of the Pre 20th Century Female Nude Painted by Men

    When looking at this, I think of strength and power; two men struggling to be more dominant than the other. Their positioning looks almost unrealistic, as though the artist has deliberately depicted them in such a way to expose their bodies.

  2. How have beauty and the grotesque been portrayed in art?

    The facial expression is quite menacing and the fact that Salome is floating adds another layer of wickedness to the illustration. In fact Beardsley had such a fascination with the grotesque he once said himself ''I have one aim - the grotesque.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work