Gallery VIII: A golden age
A Golden Age: Dutch and Flemish painting from the 16th and 17th century
Today’s border between Belgium and the Netherlands can be traced back to the 16th century, when the Low Countries split into two nations. In the north lay the independent, and largely Protestant, United Provinces of the Netherlands. In the south, Flanders remained under Catholic Spanish rule.
Landscapes and everyday scenes from domestic life became popular at this time. The Flemish artists often painted imaginary scenes, but the Dutch preferred to paint directly from life. Winter scenes were particularly popular due to the cold weather conditions that gripped the entire area. This is now known as the ‘little ice age’.
Expansion of trade in the 17th century brought a booming economy and a flourishing art market. Wealthy Dutch merchants could now afford paintings for their homes. This was a Golden Age for painting.