The Dutch Republic in the 17th century was surprisingly exciting and is now known as the Dutch Golden Age. Newly independent from Spain and wealthy, it dominated world trade, created a vast colonial empire through its immense fleet of merchantmen, and developed an effective stock market. Cultural life flourished, especially painting in which Dutch artists recorded their world in intense portraits, dramatic seascapes, domestic scenes, and beautiful still life studies. A major exhibition – Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age : Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum – 78 works from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is at the Art Gallery of NSW now until 18 February.
Rembrandt and Vermeer are the big names in the exhibition. There will be a room dedicated to Rembrandt (1606-1669) displaying seven oils and 16 of his finest etchings of both biblical and secular subjects. Among the oils will be his famous Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul (1661) . Vermeer (1632-1675) is one of the world’s best loved artists; there are few opportunities to view his work as there are only 35 known pictures by him. We will see Woman reading a letter(1663) , one of his serene interior scenes. Among the others will be landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, flower paintings by Jan Davidsz de Heem and portraits by Jan de Bray (1627-1697) whose group portrait of the painters’ guild is shown above; he succeeded Frans Hals as the favourite portrait painter of Haarlem. A lavish exhibition, perfect holiday viewing.
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