THE "GOLDEN" DUTCH 17TH CENTURY
The 17th century is considered the Dutch Golden Age. But calling it the Golden Age of Holland is in fact more appropriate.
For the rest of the Netherlands, most of this century consisted for a large part of continual war damage, decline and poverty. And also in Holland, the majority of the people were of course not at all that prosperous.
But all is relative. Compared to the rest of Europe, Holland was indeed a dynamic place full of promises. At least, you could always find a job. Be it on the seas, with the navy or commercial sailing to exotic places. Both being risky business, with an extreme high mortality, by the way.
And Amsterdam was a booming and exciting city. Where one could make a fortune, they said, with some good luck. As even kitchen maids could afford to buy shares in a business, and make money.
In any case, a small minority did effectively become opulently rich, and did show it with fancy city mansions lining the brand new canals.
Attracting the best artists and craftsmen, scientists and intellectuals of all kinds. The entire world came together in Amsterdam.
Militia celebrating the 1648 peace signing, victoriously concluding the Eighty Years' War of independence, by Bartholomeus van der Helst. Click on image to view this painting on the website of the Rijksmuseum, where it is on display.
The feeling of confidence and achievement is evident here. Amsterdam at the peak of glory.
Compare with earlier militia portrayals of the previous century. Changing styles reflecting the spirit of the age.
A few other pages on this website, related to the Dutch 17th century :
- 400 years ago : booming Dutch exploration :
Dutch appetite for the world was mixed with an apparent love for a cosy home front.
- The Dutch into the world :
Reasons for that sudden 17th century expansion.
With an overview of three periods of Dutch emigration, for different reasons : 13th and 14th century, late 16th and 17th century, 19th and 20th century.
- Leiden Pilgrims :
A large part of the Pilgrims who sailed with the Mayflower to America were members of the Leiden congregation.
- Nieuw Amsterdam - New York :
Once upon a time New York did look like a small Dutch town. Imagining what it must have been like is one of the things you can do when visiting Holland.
- 400 years of trade between Japan and Holland :
The Dutch being interested in business, and nothing else, led to a special relation between the two countries.
- 400 years ago : exploration of Terra Australis :
The Dutch scouting around Australia and New Zealand.
- The folly of the admiral's son :
The rich built many country estates, to escape smelly summer in Amsterdam.
This one is rather special.
- Painting : mass production for a new market :
17th century painters producing millions of works. For the first time in history, affordable paintings for common citizens. Not just for the elite, like before.
- A woman painter :
Gesina ter Borch, member of family of painters, was very talented herself. She left us remarkable images of 17th century daily life.
- A somewhat enigmatic painter :
Jacob Vrel : a preference for bare interiors with little action. Or simple everyday life in the street. Intimate tranquil 17th century scenes.
- An artistic Haarlem family :
Focus on the painter Jan de Bray, although father and brothers were equally talented. An example of excellence and of the fragility of life in Dutch Golden Age.
- More than picturesque winter scenes only :
Sure, painter Hendrick Avercamp splendidly captured the Dutch winter light. But he was also sort of a painting documentary maker.
The Dutch 17th century on Wikipedia
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