Gallery 630, Department of European Paintings, 1250-1800, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Painting in the Dutch Golden Age
Over the course of eighty years of warfare (1568–1648), the northern provinces of the Netherlands achieved independence from Spain, establishing the Dutch Republic. In this officially Protestant state, artists could not rely on church or court commissions and instead developed a recognizably modern art market, in which specialists in specific genres worked largely on speculation. A competitive field encouraged experimentation and the emergence of new secular genres such as landscape and still life. The unprecedented prosperity of the Dutch merchant class created a widespread appetite for works of art, and foreign visitors regularly commented on the profusion of paintings in even humble residences.
Of the many celebrated artists of this so-called Golden Age, three painters displayed in this gallery have emerged as particular icons of Dutch culture: Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. Rembrandt and Hals both enjoyed early success, only to die in poverty, while Vermeer first came to international prominence centuries after his death. Dutch paintings of the Golden Age were among the first works acquired by The Met after its founding in 1870, a reflection of both the era’s art historical prestige and the Dutch roots of New York City’s merchant elite.
Department of European Paintings, 1250-1800