Dutch Golden Age painting
Photograph by MagicToDooron Flickr.
The actual identity Faux painting of the model was not important, but they might represent a historical figure and be in exotic or historic costume. The leading artists were Jan Dutch Golden Age painting van Goyen (1596–1656), Salomon van Ruysdael (1602–1670), Pieter de Molyn (1595–1661), and in marine painting Simon de Vlieger (1601–1653), with a host of minor figures – a recent study lists over 75 artists who worked in van Goyen s manner for at least a period, including Cuyp. From the 1650s the Dutch Golden Age painting classical phase began, retaining the atmospheric quality, but with more expressive compositions and stronger contrasts of light and colour.
In Amsterdam most of these paintings would ultimately end up in the possession of the city council. Most work, including that for which the period is best Dutch Golden Age painting known, reflects the traditions of detailed realism inherited from Early Netherlandish painting. A distinctive feature of the period is the proliferation of distinct genres of paintings, with the majority of artists producing the bulk of their work within one of these.
Hals was principally a portraitist, but also painted genre figures of a portrait size early in his career. Van Ostade was as likely to paint a single figure as a group, as were the Utrecht Caravaggisti in their genre works, and the single figure, or small groups of two or three became increasingly common, especially those including women and children. Other artists who consistently worked in the style were Nicolaes Berchem (1620–1683) and Adam Pijnacker.
His pupil was Meindert Hobbema (1638–1709), best known for his atypical Avenue at Middelharnis (1689, London), a departure from his usual scenes of watermills and roads through woods. Many of these are now on display in the Amsterdams Historisch Museum. Often group portraits were paid for by each portrayed person individually.
Many artists came from well-off families, who paid fees for their apprenticeships, and they often married into property. With this exception, the best artistic efforts were concentrated on painting and printmaking. Foreigners remarked on the enormous quantities of art produced, and the large fairs where many paintings were sold – it has been roughly estimated that over 1.3 million Dutch pictures were painted in the 20 years after 1640 alone.
Dutch Masters redirects here; for the cigar, see Dutch Masters (cigar). Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history generally spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence. English painting was heavily reliant on Dutch painters, with Sir Peter Lely followed by Sir Godfrey Kneller, developing the English portrait style established by the Flemish Anthony van Dyck before the English Civil War.
Frans Post, a landscapist, and Albert Eckhout, a still-life painter who also turned his hand to native figures, were sent to the brief-lived Dutch Brazil; the much more significant Dutch East Indies were covered much less well artistically. The enormous success of 17th-century Dutch painting overpowered the work of subsequent generations, and no Dutch painter of the 18th century—nor, arguably, a 19th-century one—is well known outside the Netherlands. There was very little Dutch sculpture during the period; it is mostly found in tomb monuments and attached to public buildings, and small sculptures for houses are a noticeable gap, their place taken by silverware and ceramics.
The marine painters van der Velde, father and son, were among several artists who left Holland at the French invasion of 1672, which brought a collapse in the art market. Winter landscapes with frozen canals and creeks also abounded.
Painted delftware tiles were very cheap and common, if rarely of really high quality, but silver, especially in the auricular style, led Europe. Dead game, and birds painted live but studied from the dead, were another sub-genre, as were dead fish, a staple of the Dutch diet – Abraham van Beijeren did many of these.
Aert van der Neer (d. Jan Lievens and Rembrandt, many of whose self-portraits are also tronies (especially his etched ones), were among those who developed the genre. Group portraits, largely a Dutch invention, were popular among the large numbers of civic associations that were a notable part of Dutch life, such as a city s civilian guard, boards of trustees and regents of guilds and charitable foundations and the like.
The Bamboccianti were a colony of Dutch artists who introduced the genre scene to Italy. Over the course of the century, genre paintings tended to reduce in size. Though genre paintings provide many insights into the daily life of 17th-century citizens of all classes, their accuracy cannot always be taken for granted. The Renaissance tradition of recondite emblem books had, in the hands of the 17th-century Dutch – almost universally literate in the vernacular, but mostly without education in the classics – turned into the popularist and highly moralistic works of Jacob Cats, Roemer Visscher, and others, often based in popular proverbs.
The cow was a symbol of prosperity to the Dutch, hitherto overlooked in art, and apart from the horse by far the most commonly shown animal; goats were used to indicate Italy. Flowers wilt and food decays, and silver is of no use to the soul.
Especially in the first half of the century, portraits were very formal and stiff in composition. The development of many of these types of painting was decisively influenced by 17th-century Dutch artists. The widely held theory of the hierarchy of genres in painting, whereby some types were regarded as more prestigious than others, led many painters to want to produce history painting.
Koninck s best works are panoramic views, as from a hill, over wide flat farmlands, with a huge sky. A different type of landscape, produced throughout the tonal and classical phases, was the romantic Italianate landscape, typically in more mountainous settings than are found in the Netherlands, with golden light, and sometimes picturesque Mediterranean staffage and ruins. Jan Both (d.
Jan Weenix and Melchior d Hondecoeter specialized in game and birds, dead or alive, and were in demand for country house and shooting-lodge overdoors across Northern Europe. Compositions based on a diagonal across the picture space became popular, and water often featured.
Dutch Calvinism forbade religious painting in churches, and though biblical subjects were acceptable in private homes, relatively few were produced. For the extra precision possible on a hard surface many painters continued to use wooden panels, some time after the rest of Western Europe had abandoned them; some used copper plates, usually recycling plates from printmaking.
In descending order of status the categories in the hierarchy were: The Dutch concentrated heavily on the lower categories, but by no means rejected the concept of the hierarchy. Other artists specialized in river scenes, from the small pictures of Salomon van Ruysdael with little boats and reed-banks to the large Italianate landscapes of Aelbert Cuyp, where the sun is usually setting over a wide river.
The new Dutch Republic was the most prosperous nation in Europe, and led European trade, science, and art. Together with landscape painting, the development and enormous popularity of genre painting is the most distinctive feature of Dutch painting in this period, although in this case they were also very popular in Flemish painting.
Willem van de Velde the Elder and his son are the leading masters of the later decades, tending, as at the beginning of the century, to make the ship the subject, whereas in tonal works of earlier decades the emphasis had been on the sea and the weather. Flemish landscapes (particularly from Antwerp) of the 16th century first served as an example.
1652), who had been to Rome and worked with Claude Lorrain, was a leading developer of the sub-genre, which influenced the work of many painters of landscapes with Dutch settings, such as Aelbert Cuyp. Gerard Houckgeest, followed by van Witte and Hendrick van Vliet, had supplemented the traditional view along a main axis of the church with diagonal views that added drama and interest. Jacob van Ruisdael, View of Haarlem; Ruisdael is a central figure, with more varied subjects than many landscapists. Jan Both, Italian landscape of the type Both began to paint after his return from Rome. Jan van Goyen, Dune landscape; an example of the tonal style The Grote Markt and Sint-Bavokerk, Haarlem, 1696, by Gerrit Berckheyde. The Dutch Republic relied on trade by sea for its exceptional wealth, had naval wars with Britain and other nations during the period, and was criss-crossed by rivers and canals.
Potter s The Young Bull is an enormous and famous portrait which Napoleon took to Paris (it later returned) though livestock analysts have noted from the depiction of the various parts of the anatomy that it appears to be a composite of studies of six different animals of widely different ages. Architecture also fascinated the Dutch, churches in particular. The typical number of further sittings is unclear - between zero (for a Rembrandt full-length) and 50 appear documented.
The power of the local artists Guild of Saint Luke was declining, but remained considerable in many places, and new ones were established in the period. Compositions are often anchored by a single heroic tree , windmill or tower, or ship in marine works.
The most notable woman artist of the period, Judith Leyster (1609–1660), specialized in these, before her husband, Jan Miense Molenaer, prevailed on her to give up painting. From the late 1620s the tonal phase of landscape painting started, as artists softened or blurred their outlines, and concentrated on an atmospheric effect, with great prominence given to the sky, and human figures usually either absent or small and distant.
At the start of the period the main tradition was of fanciful palaces and city views of invented Northern Mannerist architecture, which Flemish painting continued to develop, and in Holland was represented by Dirck van Delen. This was usually a half-length of a single figure which concentrated on capturing an unusual mood or expression.
Groups were often seated around a table, each person looking at the viewer. In fact most of these had specific terms in Dutch, but there was no overall Dutch term equivalent to genre painting – until the late 18th century the English often called them drolleries .
During the century understanding of the proper rendering of perspective grew and were enthusiastically applied. Poses are undemonstrative, especially for women, though children may be allowed more freedom.
Aristocratic, and militia, sitters allowed themselves more freedom in bright dress and expansive settings than burghers, and religious affiliations probably affected many depictions. Recent historical events essentially fell out of the category, and were treated in a realist fashion, as the appropriate combination of portraits with marine, townscape or landscape subjects. More than in other types of painting, Dutch history painters continued to be influenced by Italian painting.
The Dutch Gift to Charles II of England was a diplomatic gift which included four contemporary Dutch paintings. Families often had themselves portrayed inside their luxurious homes. Most group portraits of civilian guards (Dutch: schutterstuk) were commissioned in Haarlem and Amsterdam.
By the end of the century aristocratic, or French, values were spreading among the burghers, and depictions were allowed more freedom and display. A distinctive type of painting, combining elements of the portrait, history, and genre painting was the tronie. Rembrandt s later portraits compel by force of characterization, and sometimes a narrative element, but even his early portraits can be dispiriting en masse, as in the roomful of starter Rembrandts donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The other great portraitist of the period is Frans Hals, whose famously lively brushwork and ability to show sitters looking relaxed and cheerful adds excitement to even the most unpromising subjects, though the extremely nonchalant pose of the example at left is exceptional: no other portrait from this period is so informal .Jan de Bray encouraged his sitters to pose costumed as figures from classical history, but many of his works are of his own family.
Rembrandt and Jan Steen were both enrolled at the University of Leiden for a while. Several cities had distinct styles and specialities by subject, but Amsterdam was the largest artistic centre, because of its great wealth. Dutch artists were strikingly less concerned about artistic theory than those of many nations, and less given to discussing their art; it appears that there was also much less interest in artistic theory in general intellectual circles and among the wider public than was by then common in Italy. This category comprises not only paintings that depicted historical events of the past, but also paintings that showed biblical, mythological, literary and allegorical scenes.
Many were forced to produce portraits or genre scenes, which sold much more easily. The woman is a servant. Judith Leyster, A Boy and a Girl with a Cat and an Eel; various references to proverbs or emblems have been suggested. Nicolaes Maes, The idle servant; housemaid troubles were the subject of several of Maes works. Landscape painting was a major genre in the 17th century.
These had been not particularly realistic, having been painted mostly in the studio, partly from imagination, and often still using the semi-aerial view from above typical of earlier Netherlandish landscape painting in the tradition of Joachim Patinir, Herri met de Bles and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Painting directly onto walls hardly existed; when a wall-space in a public building needed decorating fitted framed canvas was normally used.
Here the portrayed favoured an image of might, status or even a joyous spirit. and was to be adopted by artists from other countries, especially France, in the two centuries following. The tradition developed from the realism and detailed background activity of Early Netherlandish painting, which Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder were among the first to turn into their principal subjects, also making use of proverbs.
Artists included Jan Porcellis, Simon de Vlieger, Abraham Storck. In the 19th century, with a near-universal respect for realism, and the final decline of the hierarchy of genres, contemporary painters began to borrow from genre painters both their realism and their use of objects for narrative purposes, and paint similar subjects themselves, with all the genres the Dutch had pioneered appearing on far larger canvases (still lifes excepted). In landscape painting, the Italianate artists were the most influential and highly regarded in the 18th century, but John Constable was among those Romantics who denounced them for artificiality, preferring the tonal and classical artists.
Two other artists with more personal styles, whose best work included larger pictures (up to a metre or more across), were Aelbert Cuyp (1620–1691) and Philips Koninck (1619–1688). The clothes were left at the studio and might well be painted by assistants, or a bought in specialist master, although, or because, they were regarded as a very important part of the painting. At the end of the century there was a fashion for showing sitters in a semi-fancy dress, begun in England by van Dyck in the 1630s, known as picturesque or Roman dress.
From the mid-century arrangements that can fairly be called Baroque, usually against a dark background, became more popular, exemplified by the works of Willem van Aelst (1627–1683). Painters from Leiden, The Hague, and Amsterdam particularly excelled in the genre. These early works were relatively brightly lit, with the bouquets of flowers arranged in a relatively simple way.
He was impressed by the quality of Vermeer s Milkmaid (illustrated at the start of this article), and the liveliness of Hals portraits, regretting he lacked the patience to finish them properly, and lamented that Steen had not been born in Italy and formed by the High Renaissance, so that his talent could have been put to better use. In the second half of the 18th century, the down to earth realism of Dutch painting was a Whig taste in England, and in France associated with Enlightenment rationalism and aspirations for political reform. A great number of his etchings are of narrative religious scenes, and the story of his last history commission, The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis (1661) illustrates both his commitment to the form and the difficulties he had in finding an audience. Nudity was effectively the preserve of the history painter, although many portraitists dressed up their occasional nudes (nearly always female) with a classical title, as Rembrandt did.
Not all the artists who specialized in these had visited Italy. Nicolaes Tulp (1632, Mauritshuis, The Hague).
Portraiture, less affected by fashion than other types of painting, remained the safe fallback for Dutch artists. From what little we know of the studio procedures of artists, it seems that, as elsewhere in Europe, the face was probably drawn and perhaps painted at an initial sitting or two. Artists not part of the Leiden group whose common subjects also were more intimate genre groups included Nicolaes Maes, Gerard ter Borch and Pieter de Hooch, whose interest in light in interior scenes was shared with Jan Vermeer, long a very obscure figure, but now the most highly regarded genre painter of all. Hendrick Avercamp painted almost exclusively winter scenes of crowds. Pieter de Hooch, Courtyard of a House in Delft, 1658, a study in domestic virtue, texture and spatial complexity.
1677) painted very small scenes of rivers at night or under ice and snow. Landscapes with animals in the foreground were a distinct sub-type, and were painted by Cuyp, Paulus Potter (1625–1654), Adriaen van de Velde (1636–1672) and Karel Dujardin (1626–1678, farm animals), with Philips Wouwerman painting horses and riders in various settings. Utrecht, before the revolt the most important city in the new Dutch territory, was an unusual Dutch city, still about 40% Catholic in the mid-century, even more among the elite groups, who included many rural nobility and gentry with town houses there. Rembrandt began as a history painter before finding financial success as a portraitist, and he never relinguished his ambitions in this area.
Leading artists included Gerard Dou, Gabriel Metsu, Frans van Mieris the Elder, and later his son Willem van Mieris, Godfried Schalcken, and Adriaen van der Werff. This later generation, whose work now seems over-refined compared to their predecessors, also painted portraits and histories, and were the most highly regarded and rewarded Dutch painters by the end of the period, whose works were sought after all over Europe. Taking only Wouvermans in old royal collections, there are more than 60 in Dresden and over 50 in the Hermitage. Genre paintings were long popular, but little-regarded.
The illustrations to these are often quoted directly in paintings, and since the start of the 20th century art historians have attached proverbs, sayings and mottoes to a great number of genre works. The amount paid determined each person s place in the picture, either head to toe in full regalia in the foreground or face only in the back of the group.
Favourite subjects were the dunes along the western sea coast, rivers with their broad adjoining meadows where cattle grazed, often with the silhouette of a city in the distance. Amsterdam s had been founded only in 1579, and Gouda, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Delft were all set up between 1609 and 1611, There were many dynasties of artists, and many married the daughters of their masters or other artists.
The genre naturally shares much with landscape painting, and in developing the depiction of the sky the two went together; many landscape artists also painted beach and river scenes. Buytewech painted merry companies of finely dressed young people, with moralistic significance lurking in the detail.
The classic moment for having a portrait painted was upon marriage, when the new husband and wife more often than not occupied separate frames in a pair of paintings. Some Dutch painters also travelled to Italy, though this was less common than with their Flemish contemporaries, as can be seen from the membership of the Bentvueghels club in Rome.
Still life painters were especially prone to form dynasties, it seems: there were many de Heems and Bosschaerts, Heda s son continued in his father s style, and Claesz was the father of Nicholaes Berchem. Flower paintings formed a sub-group with its own specialists, and were occasionally the speciality of the few women artists, such as Maria van Oosterwyck and Rachel Ruysch; The Dutch tradition was largely begun by Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573–1621), a Flemish-born flower painter who had settled in the north by the beginning of the period, and founded a dynasty. Food of all kinds laid out on a table, silver cutlery, intricate patterns and subtle folds in table cloths and flowers all challenged painters. Several types of subject were recognised: banketje were banquet pieces , ontbijtjes simpler breakfast pieces .
Several artists specialized in church interiors. Sir Joshua Reynolds, the English leader of 18th-century academic art, made several revealing comments on Dutch art.
Boards of trustees preferred an image of austerity and humility, posing in dark clothing (which by its refinement testified to their prominent standing in society), often seated around a table, with solemn expressions on their faces. But this sometimes did happen – Philips Wouwerman was occasionally used to add men and horses to turn a landscape into a hunting or skirmish scene, Berchem or Adriaen van de Velde to add people or farm animals. Willem van Aelst, Still life with a watch (c.1665), with typical dark background. Willem Claeszoon Heda, Breakfast Table with Blackberry Pie (1631); Heda was famous for his depiction of reflective surfaces. Jan Davidszoon de Heem, Vanitas (1629) Jan Weenix, Still Life with a Dead Peacock (1692), set in the gardens of a large country house. Many Dutch (and Flemish) painters worked abroad or exported their work; printmaking was also an important export market, by which Rembrandt became known across Europe.
Rembrandt s dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh and his son Gerrit were among the most important. The technical quality of Dutch artists was generally very high, still mostly following the old medieval system of training by apprenticeship with a master; typically workshops were smaller than in Flanders or Italy, with only one or two apprentices at a time, the number often being restricted by guild regulations. It is noticeable that the most important Dutch artists in all fields, figures such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, Steen, Jacob van Ruisdael, and others, had not made the voyage. In the early part of the century many Northern Mannerist artists with styles formed in the previous century continued to work, until the 1630s in the cases of Abraham Bloemaert and Joachim Wtewael. Utrecht Caravaggism describes a group of artists who produced both history painting and generally large genre scenes in an Italian-influenced style, often making heavy use of chiaroscuro.
A greater realism began to appear and the exteriors and interiors of actual buildings were reproduced, though not always faithfully. The Leiden school of fijnschilder ( fine painters ) were renowned for small and highly finished paintings, many of this type.
In fact both groups remained influential and popular in the 19th century. For more details and many more painters see Dutch Golden Age, List Of People – Painters and List of Dutch painters. The arrangement around a table would give way in later years to a more dynamic composition, the most prominent example being Rembrandt s famous The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq better known as the Night Watch (1642, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).
This is less true of the works of Jan Davidszoon de Heem (1606–1684), an important figure who spent much of his career based over the border in Antwerp. In all these painters, colours are often very muted, with browns dominating, especially in the middle of the century.
Sometimes all group members paid an equal sum, which was likely to lead to quarrels when some members gained a more prominent place in the picture than others. Genre paintings show scenes that prominently feature figures to whom no specific identity can be attached – they are not portraits or intended as historical figures. For all their uninhibited suggestiveness, genre painters rarely revealed more than a generous cleavage or stretch of thigh, usually when painting prostitutes or Italian peasants. Portrait painting thrived in the Netherlands in the 17th century, as there was a large mercantile class who were far more ready to commission portraits than their equivalents in other countries; a summary of various estimates of total production arrives at between 750,000 and 1,100,000 portraits. The sombre clothing of male and in many cases female sitters, and the Calvinist feeling that the inclusion of props, possessions or views of land in the background would show the sin of pride leads to an undeniable sameness in many Dutch portraits, for all their technical quality.
Pieter Jansz Saenredam, whose father Jan Saenredam engraved sensuous nude Mannerist goddesses, painted unpeopled views of now whitewashed Gothic city churches. Prints and copies of Italian masterpieces circulated and suggested certain compositional schemes.
Thomas de Keyser, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Ferdinand Bol and others, including many mentioned below as history or genre painters, did their best to enliven more conventional works. The northern Netherlandish provinces that made up the new state had traditionally been less important artistic centres than cities in Flanders in the south, and the upheavals and large-scale transfers of population of the war, and the sharp break with the old monarchist and Catholic cultural traditions, meant that Dutch art needed to reinvent itself entirely, a task in which it was very largely successful. Although Dutch painting of the Golden Age comes in the general European period of Baroque painting, and often shows many of its characteristics, most lacks the idealization and love of splendour typical of much Baroque work, including that of neighbouring Flanders.
Cuyp took golden Italian light and used it in evening scenes with a group of figures in the foreground and behind them a river and wide landscape. Already by the end of the period artists were complaining that buyers were more interested in dead than living artists. If only because of the enormous quantities produced, Dutch Golden Age painting has always formed a significant part of collections of Old Master paintings, itself a term invented in the 18th century to describe Dutch Golden Age artists.
The sea was a favourite topic as well since the Low Countries depended on it for trade, battled with it for new land, and battled on it with competing nations. Important early figures in the move to realism were Esaias van de Velde (1587–1630) and Hendrick Avercamp (1585–1634), both also mentioned above as genre painters – in Avercamp s case the same paintings paintings deserve mention in each category. Here his displays began to sprawl sideways to form wide oblong pictures, unusual in the north, although Heda sometimes painted taller vertical compositions.
Pictures of sea battles told the stories of a Dutch navy at the peak of its glory, though today it is usually the more tranquil scenes that are highly estimated. More often than not, even small ships fly the Dutch tricolour, and many vessels can be identified as naval or one of the many other government ships. Most paintings were relatively small – the only common type of really large paintings were group portraits.
Nevertheless, the force of this message seems less powerful in the more elaborate pieces of the second half of the century. Initially the objects shown were nearly always mundane, but from the mid-century the pronkstilleven ( ostentatious still-life ), showing expensive and exotic objects, became more popular. They also moved to London, and the beginnings of English landscape painting were established by several less distinguished Dutch painters, such as Hendrick Danckerts.
Physicians sometimes posed together around a cadaver, a so called Anatomical Lesson , the most famous one being Rembrandt s Anatomy Lesson of Dr. His brother-in-law Balthasar van der Ast (d.
They left for London in 1672, leaving the master of heavy seas, the German-born Ludolf Bakhuizen, as the leading artist. Still lifes were a great opportunity to show one s aptitude in painting textures and surfaces in great detail and with realistic light effects. Much attention was paid to fine details in clothing, and where applicable, to furniture and other signs of a person s position in society.
The Dutch were less given to the Flemish style of combining large still-life elements with other types of painting – they would have been considered prideful in portraits – and the Flemish habit of specialist painters collaborating on the different elements in the same work. The Haarlem painters Willem Pieterszoon Buytewech, Frans Hals and Esaias van de Velde were important painters early in the period.
His emphasis on even light and geometry, with little depiction of surface textures, is brought out by comparing his works with those of Emanuel de Witte, who left in the people, uneven floors, contrasts of light and such clutter of church furniture as remained in Calvinist churches, all usually ignored by Saenredam. Willem Claeszoon Heda (1595–c.
The full development of this specialization is seen from the late 1620s, and the period from then until the French invasion of 1672 is the core of Golden Age painting. A distinctive feature of the period, compared to earlier European painting, was the small amount of religious painting. 1660) preferred to paint simpler ontbijt ( breakfast pieces ), or explicit vanitas pieces.
Many are single figures, like the Vermeer Milkmaid above; others may show large groups at some social occasion, or crowds. 1657) pioneered still lifes of shells, as well as painting flowers.
Italianate landscapes were popular as prints, and more paintings by Berchem were reproduced in engravings during the period itself than those of any other artist. A number of other artists do not fit in any of these groups, above all Rembrandt, whose relatively few painted landscapes show various influences, including some from Hercules Seghers (c.1589 – c.1638); his very rare large mountain valley landscapes were a very personal development of 16th-century styles. Many pictures included some land, with a beach or harbour viewpoint, or a view across an estuary.
In turn the number of surviving Golden Age paintings was reduced by them being overpainted with new works by artists throughout the 18th and 19th century – poor ones were usually cheaper than a new canvas, stetcher and frame. The early realist, tonal and classical phases of landscape painting had counterparts in still-life painting.
1680) and Willem Kalf (1619–1693) led the change to the pronkstilleven, while Pieter Claesz (d. Later in the century groups became livelier and colours brighter. Scientists often posed with instruments and objects of their study around them.
Genre paintings reflected the increasing prosperity of Dutch society, and settings grew steadily more comfortable, opulent and carefully depicted as the century progressed. A more realistic Dutch landscape style developed, seen from ground level, often based on drawings made outdoors, with lower horizons which made it possible to emphasize the often impressive cloud formations that were (and are) so typical in the climate of the region, and which cast a particular light.
The other traditional classes of history and portrait painting were present, but the period is more notable for a huge variety of other genres, sub-divided into numerous specialized categories, such as scenes of peasant life, landscapes, townscapes, landscapes with animals, maritime paintings, flower paintings and still lifes of various types. The growing Dutch skill in the depiction of light was brought to bear on styles derived from Italy, notably that of Caravaggio.
However this was the hardest to sell, as even Rembrandt found. MacLaren is the main source for biographical details. .
Even a standing pose is usually avoided, as a full-length might also show pride. Van de Velde was also important as a landscapist, whose scenes included unglamorous figures very different from those in his genre paintings, typically set at garden parties in country houses.
There were a large number of sub-types within the genre: single figures, peasant families, tavern scenes, merry company parties, women at work about the house, scenes of village or town festivities (though these were still more common in Flemish painting), market scenes, barracks scenes, scenes with horses or farm animals, in snow, by moonlight, and many more. Another popular source of meaning is visual puns using the great number of Dutch slang terms in the sexual area: the vagina could be represented by a lute (luit) or stocking (kous), and sex by a bird (vogelen), among many other options, and purely visual symbols such as shoes, spouts, and jugs and flagons on their side. The same painters often painted works in a very different spirit of housewives or other women at rest in the home or at work – they massively outnumber similar treatments of men, in fact working class men going about their jobs are notably absent from Dutch Golden Age art, with landscapes populated by travellers and idlers but rarely tillers of the soil.