17th century Dutch genre paintings show individuals in scenes of everyday life such as letter writing, eating, drinking, or making music.

Pieter de Hooch, the most highly regarded genre painter of all, excelled in the depiction of people going about their daily lives, be it inside their houses or in urban courtyards. His use of light and color in interior scenes has been compared to the work of Johannes Vermeer, his Delft colleague.

The National Gallery of Art has two of his paintings:

A Dutch Courtyard (1660) by Pieter de Hooch

The Bedroom (1660) by Pieter de Hooch

During the nine years he spent in Haarlem, Jan Steen created many of his greatest paintings, including a number of large, complex scenes of families and merrymakers that contained lessons in morality.

 The Dancing Couple (1663) by Jan Steen

Despite the ongoing merriment in the painting above, Steen used subtle references such as cut flowers and broken eggshells to warn the viewer about the transience of sensual pleasures.

The Prayer Before the Meal (1660) by Jan Steen

The Jan Steen painting above is actually privately owned. In 2012, this painting was sold for over $9,000,000 as part of the Old Master paintings sale from the private collection at England's Sudeley Castle. At the time it was considered one of the finest paintings from the Dutch Golden Age remaining in private hands. Thank you to the buyer who lent it to the National Gallery for the public to see.

Banquet Piece with Mince Pie (1635) by Willem Claesz Heda

When the National Gallery purchased this still life painting at auction in 1991, the curators thought the painting may have been cut because of the close proximity of the oyster to the left edge of the painting. After receiving the painting the curator decided to take the painting out of the frame to check to see if the painting had been cut and surprisingly discovered not only had the painting not been cut, but it had also never been relined. This is a rarity in a painting this old.

Three other Dutch still lifes:

Still Life with Fruit (1675) by Jacob van Walscapelle

Although there is little known about his career, Jacob van Walscapelle was an accomplished still life painter. This painting measures just 16 inches by 14 inches, but it shows an elaborate composition that is usually found in larger still life paintings.

Van Walscapelle’s abundant still lifes reflect the influence of Jan Davidsz de Heem, who is considered one of the greatest Dutch still life painters. De Heem’s compositions were even more complex with large compositions of bouquets and garlands of flowers, baskets of fruit, and various motifs such as glasses, insects, and drapery.
The painting below is another privately-owned painting on loan to the gallery. Thank you to all private collectors for allowing the public to see the beautiful paintings you own when you lend them to public museums.

Still Life with Fruit,Oysters and Wine (1655) by Jan Davidsz de Heem

Little is known about Adriaen Coorte except that he created about one hundred paintings between 1683 and 1707. In contrast to De Heem’s elaborate compositions, Coorte's paintings were small and simply composed.

Still Life with Aspargus and Red Currants (1696) by Adriaen Coorte

I have one more blog post with a few remaining paintings from the Dutch collection.

The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets along Constitution Avenue.
  • Admission is always FREE.
  • Open Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Open Sunday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Closed on December 25 and January 1. 
All photos in this blog post were taken by me during my visit in September, 2013.

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