During the 17th century, as trade and exploration bloomed and The Netherlands became a world power, art became a prominent part of culture. More than 2 million artworks were produced in Holland as investment pieces alone, and the masters among the artists became a critical part of the art historical lexicon. During this 2.5-hour walking seminar in the newly re-opened Rijksmuseum we will survey the major artworks of the Dutch Golden Age, including Rembrandt and Vermeer, as well as discovering many less-well-known artists of that period and later, in order to gain a view of Dutch life through the lens of its great portrayers.
The Rijksmuseum is one of the world’s great museums, which has recently gone through a nearly decade-long renovation. Throughout our time together we’ll look at the work of this renovation and how it returned the museum to its 19th century roots, and what that means for the artwork.
One of the hallmarks of the Rijksmuseum is a central room dedicated to Rembrandt’s masterwork, the Night Watch, a painting crucial to any discussion of the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. Though crowded, we will certainly visit this room to discuss this work and contextualize it within the social and political history of its period. Depending on our docent and the interests of the group, our course may go in any number of directions. We will certainly view and discuss more work by Rembrandts as well as encounter other Dutch masters of the 17th century as Vermeer, Steen, and Ruisdael. But, we will also take time to step away from the crowds in these popular galleries to look at some less-well-known artists and look at how they portrayed Dutch life and were collected at the time. The Rijksmuseum also boasts a fantastic collection of furniture and other objects that will help us paint a portrait of the era.
Our time together will not be spent only considering the 17th century, the Golden Age of Holland, but, we will also traverse the 19th and early 20th centuries and look at how Dutch influence in the world changed and life at home evolved. Van Gogh will, of course, make an appearance, as will many other artists who date from the period of the museum itself, making a nice circular connection to the start of our experience.
The exact course of our walk through the collections will differ from day to day, but will always be tailored to the interests of the group, and shaped by the scholarly background of our docent. We will emerge from our time together with a deeper understanding and enhanced appreciation of Dutch history and art.