Dutch painting – paintings of the 17th century
A significant feature of Dutch art was the significant prevalence in all its forms of painting. Representatives of the highest echelons of power, poor burghers, artisans and peasants decorated their homes with paintings. They were sold at auctions and fairs; artists sometimes even used them as a means of paying bills.
Road in the Forest, Meindert Hobbem, 1670
Painters were abundant, and there was quite fierce competition, since the profession of the artist was widespread. By painting, not many could earn their bread. Most artists had to do a variety of work: Jacob van Reusdal was a doctor, Meinert Hobbema worked as an excise official, and Jan Steen as an innkeeper.
In the 17th century, Dutch painting developed rapidly, not only due to the growing demand for those wishing to decorate their homes with paintings, but also due to the fact that they began to look at them as a commodity, a means of speculation and a source of profit. The artist was completely dependent on the trends of the market, freed from such direct customers as influential patrons (feudal lords) and the Catholic Church. The development paths of Dutch society were determined, and the artists who opposed them and defended their independence in terms of creativity, became isolated and died prematurely in loneliness and poverty. In most cases, these were just the most talented artists such as Rembrandt and Frans Hals.
Dutch painters mostly depicted surrounding reality, which artists of other schools of painting did not display so fully. The main place in enhancing realistic trends was occupied by portraits, the genre of everyday life, still lifes and landscapes, as artists turned to various life sides. They so deeply and truthfully depicted the real world opening before them, their works were so impressive.
Their currents existed in every genre. Among the portraying landscapes were marine painters and painters who preferred plains or forests, and also masters of winter landscapes and species depicting moonlight. Among the genre artists stood out those who depicted bourgeois and peasants, scenes of domestic life and partying, bazaars and hunting. There were also artists who specialized in church interiors and various types of still lifes, such as: “shop”, “dessert”, “breakfast”, etc. The number of tasks performed was influenced by such a peculiarity of Dutch painting as limitedness. However, the artist’s virtuosity was facilitated by the fact that each artist focused on a particular genre. Only the largest Dutch artists wrote in various genres.
The development of realistic Dutch painting took place in the fight against mannerism and the direction that imitated Italian classical art. Formally borrowed from Italian artists by representatives of these trends, the techniques were extremely unnatural for the traditions of Dutch national painting. Realistic trends more clearly manifested in the everyday genre and portraits during the development of Dutch painting, which covers 1609-1640.
Jacob van Reusdal (1628-1682) was an outstanding master in the genre of landscape (they wrote classic Dutch landscape — desert dunes, famous windmills, canal boats, skaters, and not nature in general), an artist of unlimited fantasy (“Waterfall”, “Forest Swamp”, “Jewish Cemetery”). By carefully drawing nature, Reusdahl at the same time reaches monumentality.
One of the most talented portrait painters of this era can be called Frans Hals (approx. 1585-1666 gg.). He created many group portraits, such as images of rifle guilds (an association of officers for the protection of cities and defense). The burghers wanted to capture themselves, and the artist should not forget about the respectful attitude to each model. In these paintings, the reflection of the ideals of the young republic, partnership, equality and a sense of freedom attracts. People who are confident in themselves and tomorrow, full of energy (“Streletskaya guild of St. George”, “Streletskaya guild of St. Adrian”) look at the viewer from the canvases. Naturally, they are depicted at a friendly feast. Thanks to the individual style of the artist – broad, confident, with rich, vibrant colors (red, yellow, blue, etc.) – an artistic document of the era is made up of these individuals.
A lot of reckless zeal, pressure, indefatigable energy and in individual portraits with outlines of the genre picture. It disappears in later portraits. For example, in the Hermitage’s portrait of a man, the sadness and fatigue of the hero Hals is visible, with all its impressiveness and even swagger.