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The Golden Age of Dutch Painting

xrisi epoxh ollandikis zografikis

       Art is an element connected with cultural developments. Art forms thrive when there are appropriate social, political and economic conditions, which allow the artist to express his thoughts. An important example is the Golden Age of Dutch Painting, as the result of the independence from Spanish Catholic rule in the 17th century. This historical outcome triggered new artistic developments, inspiring the artists of the “Golden Age” to experiment and explore new painting patterns, which was seen in their works.

        The Peace of Utrecht (1713), which focuses on the ending of wars between France and other European countries with the Spanish State, stimulates the creation of new patterns in painting, besides the traditional motifs, which leads to the beginning of the “Golden Age” for the Netherlands. Plethora of people settled in Amsterdam, which developed from a small port into a commercial spot in Europe. The movement of the population caused changes in the older cultural traditions of society so that the artists rediscover the identity of the Dutch art. Painting was not unaffected by these changes. Patterns, such as still life, landscape painting and genre painting, was created and contributed to the spread of Dutch culture.

       The Netherlands was pioneer in the pattern of still life, in which rare and ordinary flowers are prevailed. Through this pattern, other species were created. The pattern of “vanitas”, which came from the word vanity, combines crafted items with Christian symbolism to convey the message of the transience of life. This pattern had a significant influence in the University of Leiden. Despite its religious beliefs, the University exhibited paintings with this motif in its space.  Other scenes were based on luxurious tables with dinner or breakfast, emphasizing the composition of the light.               Also, scenes of expensive objects, rare fruits and flowers, wanted to present a rich lifestyle through the pattern Pronkstilleven, which means ostentatious still life. Landscapes still played a dominant role in painting. In the early 1600s, the emphasis was on the element of the sky and landscapes with blurred outlines. The focus then shifted to classic elements, such as a tree, a windmill or a cloud-filled sky in order to present the Dutch rural life. Lastly, the art of genre painting was developed, with the aim of presenting scenes of everyday life in a realistic way. Many paintings depicted festive occasions, tavern scenes, musicians and even housewives inside a house.

       Art, and especially painting, represents the culture of the people, but also the cultural values. Dutch painting, with the new motifs on which it was based, created cultural relations with other peoples. The artists proceeded to the representation of the landscapes, emphasizing the unique characteristics of the Netherlands, such as a windmill. They presented scenes of rural life and used symbols in their works to promote their values. Since the “Golden Age”, Amsterdam has been associated with flowers and The Hague with food, a parallel that is maintained up until now. On the other hand, there were dinners with luxurious objects and moments of joy, which give a different perspective to the Dutch customs. The development of painting allowed other countries to meet the habits of the Dutch people and to be familiar with their culture. Art is a way of communication while it accelerates the contact with the country’s culture and the interaction with others.

Anna Serdaraki




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