Flanders Netherlands Context (Flemish) (Dutch)• Bank of Amsterdam founded in 1609, making Amsterdam thefinancial center of Europe (highest per capita income rate).• Economy is also boosted by Dutch sea-faring skill, enabling themto establish colonies and trade routes to the Americas, Africa, China,Japan, and Southeast Asia.• No absolute ruler. Political power was in the hands of an urbanpatrician class of merchants and manufacturers.• The cities of Amsterdam, Haarlem, and Delft were mostprosperous. All three are located in Holland, the largest of the sevenUnited Provinces that make up the Netherlands.• Spain and the southern Netherlands (Flanders) was predominatelyCatholic, but the northern Netherlands were predominatelyProtestant (Calvinist). The puritanical Calvinists rejected art inchurches, and thus artists produced relatively little religious art inthe Dutch Republic at this time.• Upon gaining independence in the Treaty of Westphalia, theNetherlands had a newfound pride in their land. European after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648• Without an emphasis on religious art, Dutch artists instead turned (Flanders is labeled as Spanish Netherlands)to genre, landscape, still life, and portraiture (including self and • Note: All paintings in this PowerPoint (not including prints)group portraiture) commissioned by the wealthy merchant class. are oil on canvas.• Calvinists reject ostentation = smaller, less showy artworks.
Supper Party The Supper Party Gerrit van Honthorst. 1620. 4’8” x 7’.• With the new middle class of Holland came a large number ofwould-be art collectors. Artists at the time did commissioned pieces,but they also frequently made uncommissioned works to sell on thenew art market. Artists made artwork according to the general tasteof the public, in hopes of selling it.• This genre painting depicts a group of people in a dark tavern. Oneman strums an instrument while another, whose hands are alreadyfull, is fed chicken by a woman.• Gerrit van Honthorst, the artist, spent several years in Italy,studying the work of Caravaggio. He frequently used hidden lightsources in dark night scenes.• Similarities to Caravaggio: lighting, unidealized figures, mundanesetting.• Although this scene seems lighthearted, Calvinist Dutch viewerscould read them moralistically. This painting could be read againstthe sins of gluttony (the man being fed chicken) and lust (thewoman may be a prostitute, accompanied by her aged procuress).• It may also represent the company of the Prodigal Son (a parabletold by Jesus, recounted in the Book of Luke).• It may also show the five senses through which it was believed sincould enter the soul.
Archers of Saint HadrianFrans Hals. C. 1633. 6’ 9” x 11’. Archers of St. Hadrian • Dutch artists frequently specialized in one area (i.e. portraits, landscapes…). Frans Hals specialized in portraiture. • Traditionally, portrait artists relied on conventions (specific poses, settings, attire, etc., to convey a sense of the sitter). However, because Calvinists rejected ostentation, and chose to wear dark, undecorated clothing, the conventions traditionally used to paint kings and popes became inappropriate. • Hals’ portraits are relaxed, seem spontaneous, and convey the personality of the individuals depicted. • Participation in civic organizations was popular in 17 th century Holland. This group portrait depicts the Archers of St. Hadrian, one of a number of militia groups that claimed credit for liberating the Dutch Republic from Spain, at their annual celebratory banquet. • Each militiaman is a part of the group (unified by their uniform) and also an individual, with distinct features. • Variety and spontaneity is created through variations of pose, eye contact, expressions, and physical features. • Unity is created through a repetition of uniforms (sashes, ruffs, black coats).
Women Regents The Women Regents of the Old Men’s Home at Haarlem. Frans Hals. 1664. 5’ 7” x 8’ 2”.• Hans also produced group portraits of Calvinist womenengaged in charitable work, such as this painting.• Dutch women primarily were responsible for the welfare of thefamily and the home, they also populated the labor force in thecities.• Among the more prominent roles educated Dutch womenplayed in public life were as regents of orphanages, hospitals, oldage homes, and prisons.• The Haarlem regents sit quietly in a manner becoming ofdevout Calvinists. They seem more stern, puritanical, andcomposed than the celebratory militia men.• Although dressed similarly, each woman has individual featuresand a different expression (ranging from dour disinterest tokindly concern).• Limited color palette communicates the conservative restraintof the regents.
Self-Portrait Judith LeysterJudith Leyster. C. 1630. 2’ 5” x 2’1”. • Judith Leyster was a student of Hals who had her own successful career, focusing primarily on genre paintings such as the comic image on the easel, but also including portraits and floral still lifes. • In this self-portrait, Leyster shows herself as an artist (holding the brush and palette), sitting in front of her painting. • She turns to directly face the viewer with a quick smile and relaxed pose, which communicates her self-confidence. • The painting invites the viewer to evaluate her skill as an artist. • Instead of depicting herself in a traditional artist’s smock, she has instead painted herself in elegant attire, establishing herself as a member of a well-to-do family.
Rembrandt van Rijn Self-PortraitRembrandt van Rijn. C. 1659. • Rembrandt van Rijn (rhymes with “line”) was born in Leiden, 33” x 26”. but moved to Amsterdam around 1631, where he became famous for his portraiture. • He completed seventy self-portraits over the course of his lifetime, establishing a record of his appearance over time. • The hallmarks of Rembrandt’s style are his gradated use of light and brushstrokes. • Renaissance painters represented forms and faces in a flat, neutral modeling light, representing the idea of light, instead of how humans perceive light. Italian Baroque painters such as Caravaggio painted with abrupt lights and darks, which created drama but carried little subtlety. • Rembrandt used gradual gradations of light to create a kind of lighting closer to reality (though less dramatic). • Rembrandt painted using a combination of thin glazes and impasto (a technique using thick, paste-like paint). The textures of individual brushstrokes are visible. • Rembrandt found that by manipulating the direction, intensity, and distance of light, and by varying the surface texture with brushstrokes, he could render subtle nuances of character, mood, and emotion.
Self-Portraits Self-Portrait Rembrandt van Rijn. C. 1659.• Rembrandt used the “psychology of light” to create a mood 3’ 8” x 3’ 1”.of tranquil meditation. The light and dark are not in conflict;they are reconciled, merging softly to produce the visualequivalent of quietness.• In the image on the left, he depicted himself as a workingartist, holding his brushes, palette, and maulstick and wearinghis studio smock.• The circles on the wall behind him are greatly debated, butmay allude to his artistic virtuosity – the ability to draw aperfect circle freehand.• The lower half is blurrier and in shadow, drawing the eyeupward to his face.• X-rays show that originally, he depicted himself in the act ofpainting. The choice to instead focus on his face points to adesire to depict not just a portrait of an artist, but of theindividual man as well.• The artist depicted himself as having dignity and strength,with self-assurance.
Dr. Tulp’s Anatomy LessonRembrandt. 1632. 5’3” x 7’1”. Dr. Tulp’s Anatomy Lesson • This painting is an early one of Rembrandt’s, done at age 26, just after he moved to Amsterdam. • The painting was commissioned by the surgeons’ guild, and depicts the esteemed Dr. Tulp (right) giving an anatomy lesson on a cadaver to a group of students. • The cadaver is diagonal and foreshortened to break the strict horizontal orientation typical of traditional group portraiture. • The students are grouped to the left side of the painting, and are dressed similarly, but have individual features. • One gazes toward the viewer, while another focuses on the anatomy book at the foot of the cadaver. • This painting takes Hals’ attempts to create a more relaxed, natural group portrait even further by clustering the figures unevenly.
Night Watch The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq (Night Watch)• Rembrandt’s The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq is Rembrandt. 1642. 11’ 11” x 14’ 4”.more commonly, but inaccurately, known as the Night Watch.The dark tones of the painting are the result of the varnish heused, which darkened considerably over time. It was notintended to show a dark night scene.• This is another example of a civic-guard group commissioninga group portrait.• The identity of the girl is unknown.• This artwork is one of six paintings by different artistscommissioned by various groups around 1640 for the assemblyand banquet hall of Amsterdam’s new Musketeers Hall, thelargest and fanciest hall in the city.• Unfortunately, when the city officials moved this painting toAmsterdam’s town hall in 1715, part of the edges were trimmedoff.• Rembrandt enlivened and animated the group portrait bydepicting the men rushing around in preparation for a parade,instead of seated.• He also recorded the three most important stages of using amusket (loading, firing, and readying the weapon for reloading)to please the patrons.
Return of the Prodigal SonRembrandt. C. 1665. 8’ 8” x 6’ 9”. Return of the Prodigal Son • Despite the Calvinist injunction against religious art, Rembrandt still made several religious artworks, such as this one. It was not an object of devotion, but a narrative illustration of an event. • Rembrandt had an interest in depicting the states of the human soul. His religious paintings depict inward-turning contemplation, far from the choirs and trumpets of Bernini or Pozzo. • In this image, the wasteful son returns home, begging forgiveness. The forgiving father tenderly embraces his lost son, while three figures in shadows note the lesson of mercy. • The focus of the light is on the beautiful, spiritual face of the old man. • This painting demonstrates Rembrandts psychological insight and his profound sympathy for human affliction.
Hundred-Guilder Print Christ with the Sick Around Him, Receiving the Children (Hundred-Guilder Print)• Prints were a major source of income for Rembrandt (as for Rembrandt. Etching. 1649. 11” x 15”.Durer).• In some instances, Rembrandt even reworked the plates sothey could be used to produce a new edition (group of prints).• This print’s nickname, the Hundred-Guilder Print, comesfrom the high sale price it brought during Rembrandt’s lifetime(a comfortable house could be bought for 1000 guilders).• He used a combination of etching and engraving.• His depiction of Christ is not one of Catholic heavenlytriumph, but rather the humanity and humility of Jesus.• Christ is depicted preaching compassionately to and blessingthe blind, lame, and young people spread around him.• To the left is a young man in elegant clothing, resting hishead on his palm, sad about Christ’s insistence that thewealthy need to give their possessions to the poor to gainentrance to Heaven.• The wide range of values (lights/darks) is impressive on anetching. The deep shadows contrast with the light from twosources (one of which is Christ).
Syndics of the Cloth GuildRembrandt. 1662. 6’ 2” x 9’ 2”. Syndics of the Cloth Guild • View of the new societal class of the businessman • In this group portrait, the five syndics (or board of directors) go over the books while a bear-headed attendant looks on. • It seems as though someone has just entered the room, and the syndics are turning to look. • The impression of surprise is enhanced by the angle we view the men (from below). • Rembrandt gives us the lively reality of a business conference as it is interrupted. • X-rays show that the poses of the men were shifted several times, until Rembrandt settled on a final arrangement. • Although this painting gives the illusion of a quick snapshot in time, in reality each man probably sat for a single long session in Rembrandt’s painting studio.
View of Delft. VermeerJan Vermeer. C. 1661. 38” x 42” • Jan (or Johannes) Vermeer was a painter in Delft who made much of his money as an innkeeper and art dealer, selling paintings he put on display in his inn. • Less than forty paintings can be securely attributed to him. • In his View of Delft, Vermeer did not make a photographic reproduction of the city. Instead, he rearranged the buildings to make a more ideal composition. • Dutch landscapes emphasize the sky. • A sense of peace is created by the emphasis on stable, horizontal lines and the quiet atmosphere of soft light that seems to filter through the low clouds. • Vermeer may have used a camera obscura, not as a method of reproducing the image, but as a way of visually analyzing the image. The camera obscura would have enhanced optical distortions that lead to the “beading” of highlights (seen here on the harbored ships and dark gray architecture), which creates the illusion of brilliant light.
Camera Obscura Camera Obscura• Since the Renaissance, artists sought mechanical aids todrawing from life.• An early predecessor of the modern camera is the cameraobscura (meaning “dark chamber/room”).• The camera obscura is a dark box or room with a hole in oneside (covered with a lens, to enable focusing), through whichlight passes. The light outside bounces off of objects outside ofthe box, which then passes in through the hole, and projects(upside-down) onto the opposite interior wall.• Artists could then trace the projected image.• On smaller, portable cameras obscura, a mirror was affixedinside to reflect the image onto the upper surface of the box.• Note: this “camera” does not contain any film or chemicalcoated glass plates onto which an image can be developed,and is thus different from modern cameras.
Vermeer’s Interiors Woman Holding a Balance Vermeer. 1664. 16” x 14”.• Vermeer is best known for his genre paintings of interiors,which mainly featured women performing everyday tasks.• In Woman Holding a Balance, a woman stands before hertable, onto which all her valuable possessions (jewelry, gold)are strewn.• Our focus (drawn by the orthogonal lines) is on the woman’shand, which holds an empty, and thus level, balance.• Ignatius of Loyola advised Catholics (Vermeer was a Catholicconvert) to lead a temperate, self-aware life and to balanceone’s sins with virtues.• The mirror on the wall before her may refer to selfknowledge, or to vanity (another sin).• Behind the woman is a painting of the Last Judgment,underscoring the symbolism of the scales.• The woman contemplates the kind of life (one free from thetemptations of worldly riches) she must lead to be judgedfavorably on judgment day.• Vermeer painted reflections off of surfaces in colorsmodified by others nearby. He also painted highlights withdaubs of paint to give them a slightly “out of focus” look wheninspected closely.
Vermeer’s Interiors Woman Holding a Balance (details)
Allegory of the Art of Painting Allegory of the Art of Painting Jan Vermeer. 1670-1675. 4’4” x 3’8”.• The artist himself appears in this painting, with his back tothe viewer, and dressed in “historical” clothing (reminiscent ofBurgundian attire).• The model wears a laurel wreath and holds a trumpet andbook, traditional attributes of Clio, the muse of history.• The map of the Dutch provinces (an increasingly commonwall adornment in Dutch homes) on the back wall serves asanother reference to history.• The viewer stands outside of the space of action, separatedfrom the room by a heavy curtain, which separates the artist’sstudio from the rest of the house.• Some art historians have suggested that the light radiatingfrom an unseen window on the left alludes to the light ofartistic inspiration.• This work exemplifies Vermeer’s stylistic precision andcommitment to his profession.
Feast of St. Nicholas Feast of St. Nicholas Steen. C. 1660. 2’8” x 2’3”.• The works of Jan Steen of Amsterdam provide a chaoticcounterpoint to Vermeer’s images of quiet domestic tranquility.• In this scene, Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) has just visited, andthe children check their shoes for gifts. Some children are delighted(such as the girl in the center who clutches her doll, unwilling toshare), while others are unhappy with their gifts.• As do paintings by some other Dutch artists, Steen’s lively scenesoften take on an allegorical dimension and moralistic tone.• Steen used children’s activities as satirical comments on foolishadult behavior. Feast of St. Nicholas is a warning against selfishness,pettiness, and jealousy.
Vanitas Still Life • It was with some irony that the Dutch, who produced very little from their own lands, became prominent worldwide traders (which was only possible because of their sea-faring skills). • The prosperous Dutch were proud of their accomplishments, and the popularity of vanitas (vanity) still-life paintings, showing their accumulated goods, reflected this pride. • Dutch still life paintings (some of the best in the history of the world) are both scientific in their optical accuracy and poetic in their beauty and lyricism. • The morality and humility central to the Calvinist faith tempered Dutch pride in worldly goods. • Claesz fostered the appreciation and enjoyment of the beautyVanitas Still Life of the objects he depicted, but he also reminded the viewer ofPieter Claesz life’s transience through references to death (mementos mori),1630. Oil on panel. such as the skull, timepiece, tipped glass, and cracked walnut.1’2” x 1’11”. • Claesz has also included a small self-portrait in the glass ball, which underscores the sense of time (as it immortalizes the artist) as well as shows off his artistic ability. • Claesz was especially skilled at painting metal and transparent glass objects with exacting realism.
Flower Still LifeRachel Ruysch. C. 1700. Flower Still Life2.5’ x 2”. • Rachel Ruysch specialized in still-lifes of flowers. • As living objects that quickly die, flowers, particularly cut blossoms, appeared frequently in vanitas paintings. • Ruysch’s father was a professor of botany and anatomy, which may account for her interest in and knowledge of plants and insects. Her work shows the advances made in botany during the time. • Ruysch (1663-1750) was the court painter to the Palatine (elected leader) in Dusseldorf, Germany between 1708 and 1716. • The blossoms are plentiful, seeming to spill out of the vase. • The overall mass of blossoms makes a lower-left to upper-right diagonal, contrasting with the diagonal of the edge of the table. • Ruysch did not paint the entire arrangement from life at once. Instead, she made color sketches from fresh samples of flowers and studied illustrations in scientific botanical texts. She then composed floral arrangements of flowers that would not haven been in bloom at the same time of year. • Flowers, especially tulips, were a significant part of the Dutch economy, as the Dutch were major growers and exporters of them. • She added insects and fruit to her compositions to create interest.
View of Haarlem from the Dunes at Overveen. Jacob van Ruisdael. C. 1670. 1’10” x 2’1”. Ruisdael’s Landscapes • The Dutch were proud of their country’s scenery, and frequently depicted it in landscapes. Being mostly flat, the landscapes were dominated by large skies. • Dutch landscape artists (who did most of their painting in a studio, instead of in nature) were not afraid of rearranging elements of the landscape to create a more scenic image. • The image shows the flatlands around Haarlem, which had been reclaimed through a huge land filling project, from the sea. This bore the connotation of God’s restoration of the Earth after Noah’s flood. This message is underscored by the large presence of a church (St. Bavo) on the horizon. • In the foreground, small human figures stretch new linens in the sun (linen production was a major industry), celebrating the industriousness and independence of the Dutch, which would have made it appealing on the Dutch art market.