Dutch Masters of Oil Painting
The Dutch Golden Age spans a period from roughly 1575-1725, with most of the truly great artistic works being created between 1609 (start of the Twelve Years' Truce) and 1672. Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history generally spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence. The new Dutch Republic was the most prosperous nation in Europe, and led European trade, science, and art. Although Dutch painting of the Golden Age comes in the general European period of Baroque painting, and often shows many of its characteristics, most lacks the idealization and love of splendour typical of much Baroque work, including that of neighbouring Flanders. The enormous success of 17th-century Dutch painting overpowered the work of subsequent generations, and no Dutch painter of the 18th century—nor, arguably, a 19th-century one before Van Gogh—is well known outside the Netherlands. Already by the end of the period artists were complaining that buyers were more interested in dead than living artists. If only because of the enormous quantities produced, Dutch Golden Age painting has always formed a significant part of collections of Old Master paintings, itself a term invented in the 18th century to describe Dutch Golden Age artists. One nearly constant factor has been admiration for Rembrandt, especially since the Romantic period. Other artists have shown drastic shifts in critical fortune and market price; at the end of the period some of the active Leiden fijnschilders had enormous reputations, but since the mid-19th century realist works in various genres have been far more appreciated. Vermeer was rescued from near-total obscurity in the 19th century, by which time several of his works had been re-attributed to others. However the fact that so many of his works were already in major collections, often attributed to other artists, demonstrates that the quality of individual paintings was recognised even if his collective oeuvre was unknown.
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