Art and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age
The Netherlands was Europe's largest producer and exporter of images during the seventeenth century; it was also home to a diverse and prosperous early capitalist society. This course explores the crucial role of the pictorial arts in the making and life of the Dutch Republic. We will be looking at painting, drawing, prints, maps, book illustrations and the range of pictorial representations and technologies that constituted Dutch visual culture. The course will situate Dutch art within its historical and social circumstances, particularly in relation to Dutch commercial and scientific enterprises, overseas trade, urban culture, religious pluralism, literacy and print culture, and the new philosophy of experiment. Lectures will give special emphasis to the innovative work in still life, landscape, portraiture, scenes of social life, and experiments with perspective and optics for which artists from the Netherlands are justly famous. Lectures will feature the art of such well-known figures as Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Vermeer, and less familiar but equally fascinating works by their contemporaries. Discussions will examine the character, meanings, and functions of these pictures, as well as the aesthetic, social and economic values they negotiated. We will look at how Dutch pictures were made and marketed, how people made sense of them, and how pictorial technologies generated new ways of seeing and understanding the world. The course will involve a mix of lecture, discussion and in-class writing exercises. Evaluation will be based on class participation, periodic quizzes, a few short writing assignments, an 8-10 page paper, and a final project.
Estimated cost of Materials: $50 or more, but less than $100. D. 3