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No. 6, May 2000
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Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.

The Glory of the Golden Age - 17th century Dutch art at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
 
For its 200th anniversary, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has organized a magnificent exhibition on Dutch art of the Golden Age, the 17th century. The museum considers itself today - as 200 years ago when it was founded at the castle Huis ten Bosch under the name of "Nationale Konst-Gallerij" - the "home" of Dutch art of the 17th century. The Glory of the Golden Age is a logical continuation of the exhibitions held at the museum in 1986 and 1993/94 dedicated to the period before the 17th century.
 
For its anniversary, the Rijksmuseum managed to attract Dutch art works from around the world in order to complete its overview, e.g. the still life on the right by Willem van Aelst comes from the Palazzo Pitti in Florence or, among the most famous paintings, Rembrandt's The Anatomy of Dr. Tulp (1632) which is normally on display in the Mauritshuis in Den Haag.
 
In 1555, Charles V handed over the power in the Netherlands to his son Philip II. of Spain. His authoritarian style of government led in 1568 to an "uprising", as the 80-year war was called. The fight for independence led to the division of the Netherlands, the Southern part remained under the Spanish King and Catholicism, the Northern, protestant part became the General States in 1581, named after the general assembly of the seven provinces. The republic reached independence from Spain with the peace treaty of 1648. In the 17th century, the Netherlands became one of the leading trading nations thanks to its liberal system - and the arts flourished as never before.       


Willem Van Aelst (1627-1683):
Still Life with Fruit and Crystal Vase, 1652.
Photograph: exhibition catalogue.


Rembrandt (1606-1669): Beggars at the door, 1648.
Photograph: Exhibition catalogue.

Around 1600, art in the Netherlands evolves from mannerism, influenced by other countries, to autochthon realism. Different centers and styles flourished in Amsterdam, Haarlem, Utrecht and Delft, which is represented with paintings by Jan Vermeer, Pieter the Hooch, Gabriel Metsu and others. The works by the most highly esteemed Dutch artists of the 17th century, Rembrandt and Frans Hals, form another highlight, as well as landscape and marine painting. Towards the end of the century, Dutch art comes again under foreign influence, this time from the French court of Louis XIV, le rois soleil.
 
The two exhibition catalogues, one on paintings, sculpture, arts and crafts, the other on drawings and prints, show the panorama of developments in Dutch art, exemplified with the 200 exhibits at the Rijksmuseum, and sum up today's knowledge. But the reader also learns curious details such as the tulip mania that reached its climax in 1636 when an exquisite tulip bulb could fetch the price of an Amsterdam canal house! The frenzy came to an end in 1636/37 and ruined a lot of traders and buyers - speculation is not an invention of 20th century stock markets. By the way, the tulip was only introduced in Holland in the 16th century. It originally came from Turkey, that's why it was such a rare and expensive plant.
 
For the Rijksmuseum and other museums worldwide.
For information on the art market check Artprice.

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 6, May 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.