Wie kan hier all’ de wondren tellen?

Ik zie de purpren Muskadellen;

‘k Zie de adertjes der blaadjes zwellen,

Door milde morgendauw besproeid.

De schoone Pruim en Perzik bloozen;

Terwijl het Violiertje gloeit

In schaaûw van witte en roode Roozen.

My dunkt ik zie dat Rupsje weeven,

Dat Bytje door de takjes zweeven,

Noem dit geen kunst: o neen : ‘t is leven.

(Who can count these wonders all?

I see the purple Muscatel;

I see the leaves’ veins as they swell

Under the gentle morning dew.

The Plum and Peach, they blush, ‘tis said,

and fragrant Stock of glowing hue,

shaded by Roses white and red.

The caterpillar wends its way,

Methinks that bee above doth sway,

Call not this art: ‘tis life, I say.)

-Lukretia Wilhelmina van Merken, in honour of Rachel Ruysch’s oeuvre (1750)

On this International Women’s Day, I’d like to highlight some of my greatest heroes and inspirations: the women whose fantastic works shaped the Dutch Golden Age. The harmful and disrespectful notion that women artists didn’t exist in history (and if they did, they were never successful) persists to this day. I want to stress, desperately, that this is not so. Women’s labour throughout the ages has been tragically undervalued, and women’s art has been systematically pushed aside and labelled as “kitsch” and “craft” by those who would have women make nothing else.

Margareta de Heer, Clara Peeters, Rachel Ruysch and Maria van Oosterwijck were each very achieved artists, and their work was heavily sought after in their time. With the limitations set upon them by society - still life was the only form of painting a (wealthy) woman could do at the time - they built great careers and lasting legacies. Their love of the natural world shows in the beautiful, detailed way they depict it in their work, and if ever you are blessed with the opportunity to see any of it in real life, I strongly suggest you do so. They are the giants whose shoulders we stand on, and must never be forgotten.

The Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish Paintings

The 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. The northern Netherlandish provinces that made up the new state had traditionally been less important artistic centres than cities in Flanders in the south, and the upheavals and large-scale transfers of population of the war, and the sharp break with the old monarchist and Catholic cultural traditions, meant that Dutch art needed to reinvent itself entirely, a task in which it was very largely successful.

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. Most work, including that for which the period is best known, reflects the traditions of detailed realism inherited from Early Netherlandish painting.

It is also a great time for Flemish Painters of the Baroque

Flemish Baroque painting refers to the art produced in the Southern Netherlands during Spanish control in the 16th and 17th centuries. The period roughly begins when the Dutch Republic was split from the Habsburg Spain regions to the south with the Spanish recapturing of Antwerp in 1585 and goes until about 1700, when Habsburg authority ended with the death of King Charles II. Antwerp, home to the prominent artists Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens, was the artistic nexus, while other notable cities include Brussels and Ghent.
Rubens, in particular, had a strong influence on seventeenth-century visual culture. His innovations helped define Antwerp as one of Europe’s major artistic cities, especially for Counter Reformation imagery, and his student Van Dyck was instrumental in establishing new directions in English portraiture. Other developments in Flemish Baroque painting are similar to those found in Dutch Golden Age painting, with artists specializing in such areas as history painting, portraiture, genre painting, landscape painting, and still life.

A distinctive feature of the period is the proliferation of distinct genres of paintings, with the majority of artists producing the bulk of their work within one of these. The full development of this specialization is seen from the late 1620s, and the period from then until the French invasion of 1672 is the core of Golden Age painting.

The term “genre” is much used in the history and criticism of visual art, but in art history has meanings that overlap rather confusingly.  Genre painting may also be used as a wider term covering genre painting proper, and other specialized types of paintings such as still-life, landscapes, marine paintings and animal paintings.

The concept of the “hierarchy of genres” was a powerful one in artistic theory, especially between the 17th and 19th centuries:

  • History painting, including narrative, religious, mythological and allegorical subjects
  • Portrait painting
  • Genre painting or scenes of everyday life
  • Landscape (landscapists were the “common footmen in the Army of Art” according to the Dutch theorist Samuel van Hoogstraten) and cityscape
  • Animal painting
  • Still life, flowers, etc.

History Painting (historical, biblical, mythical, allegory, battle scenes)

  • Denis van Alsloot
  • Dirck Van Baburen
  • Jacob Adriaensz. Backer
  • Abraham Bloemaert
  • Jan Boeckhorst
  • Ferdinand Bol
  • Paulus Bor
  • Leonaert Bramer
  • Salomon de Bray
  • Bartholomeus Breenbergh
  • Jan Brueghel the Elder
  • Jan Brueghel the Younger
  • Hendrick ter Brugghen
  • Abraham Van Calraet
  • Jacob van Campen
  • Hendrik de Clerck
  • Gaspar de Crayer
  • Benjamin Gerritsz. Cuyp
  • Willem Drost
  • Karel Dujardin
  • Caesar van Everdingen
  • Carel Fabritius
  • Govert Flinck
  • Ambrosius Francken
  • Frans Francken the Younger
  • Hieronymus Francken the Younger
  • Aert de Gelder
  • Hendrik Goltzius
  • Pieter de Grebber
  • Cornelis van Haarlem
  • Hendrik Heerschop
  • Pauwels van Hillegaert
  • Gerard Hoet
  • Cornelis Holsteyn
  • Gerrit van Honthorst
  • Samuel van Hoogstraten
  • Arnold Houbraken
  • Michael Angelo Immenraet
  • Pieter Isaacsz
  • Lambert Jacobsz
  • Jacob Jordaens
  • Nicolaes Knüpfer
  • Salomon Koninck
  • Gerard de Lairesse
  • Pieter Lastman
  • Jan Lievens
  • Johannes Lingelbach
  • Jacob van Loo
  • Karel van Mander
  • Claes Cornelisz.Moeyaert
  • Paulus Moreelse
  • Daniel Mijtens the Younger
  • Jan Baptist van Meunincxhove
  • Eglon van der Neer
  • Adriaen van Nieulandt
  • Abraham Janssens van Nuyssen
  • Jacob van Oost the Elder
  • Jacob van Oost the Younger
  • Palamedes Palamedesz
  • Cornelius van Poelenburgh
  • Willem de Poorter
  • Jacob Pynas
  • Jan Pynas
  • Erasmus Quellinus II
  • Nicolas Regnier
  • Pieter Cornelisz van Rijck
  • Rembrandt van Rijn
  • Peter Paul Rubens
  • David Rijckaert (III)
  • Cornelis Saftleven
  • Joris van Schooten
  • Pieter Snayers
  • Frans Snyders
  • Matthias Stom
  • Jacob van Swanenburg
  • Abraham van den Tempel
  • Jan Tengnagel
  • David Teniers the Elder
  • David Teniers the Younger
  • Theodoor van Thulden
  • Moses van Uyttenbroeck
  • Gillis van Valckenborch
  • Otto van Veen
  • Esaias van de Velde
  • Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne
  • Johannes Vermeer
  • Simon de Vos
  • Cornelis de Wael
  • Jan Baptist Weenix
  • Jan Weenix
  • Adriaen van der Werff
  • Pieter van der Werff
  • Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert
  • Frans Wouters
  • Philips Wouwerman
  • Joachim Wtewael

Tronies, portrait, selfportrait, equestrian, groupsportrait, military

  • Pieter van Anraedt
  • Jan de Baen
  • David Bailly
  • Jan van Bijlert
  • Abraham van Blyenberch
  • Gerard ter Borch
  • Gesina ter Borch
  • Jan de Bray
  • Gonzales Coques
  • John de Critz the elder
  • Jacob Gerritszoon Cuyp
  • Jan Frans van Douven
  • Anthony van Dyck
  • Albert Eckhout
  • Wybrand de Geest
  • Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
  • Frans Pietersz de Grebber
  • Johannes van Haensbergen
  • Frans Hals
  • Daniel Haringh
  • Bartholomeus van der Helst
  • Jan van den Hoecke
  • Ludolf Leendertsz de Jongh
  • Thomas de Keyser
  • Roelof Koets of Zwolle
  • Sir Peter Lely
  • Isaac Luttichuys
  • Frans Luycx
  • Jacob Levecq
  • Nicolaes Maes
  • Pieter Meert
  • Michel Jansz van Mierevelt
  • Jan van Mieris
  • Daniel Mytens the Elder
  • Caspar Netscher
  • David van der Plas
  • Pieter van der Plas
  • Hendrick Gerritsz Pot
  • Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn
  • Arnold van Ravesteyn
  • Jan Albertsz. Rotius
  • Dirck van Santvoort
  • Godfried Schalcken
  • Anthoon Schoonjans
  • Paul Van Somer
  • Pieter Claesz Soutman
  • Justus Sustermans
  • Wallerant Vaillant
  • Johanna Vergouwen
  • Jan Verkolje
  • Johannes Cornelisz. Verspronck
  • Jacob Ferdinand Voet
  • Ary de Vois
  • Cornelis de Vos
  • Willem Wissing

Genre, scenes of daily life, music

  • Cornelis Pietersz Bega
  • Charles Emmanuel Biset
  • Peter van Bloemen
  • Balthasar van den Bossche
  • Andries Both
  • Esaias Boursse
  • Adriaen Brouwer
  • Hendrick van der Burgh
  • Willem Pieterszoon Buytewech
  • Pieter Codde
  • Joos van Craesbeeck
  • Gerrit Dou
  • Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot
  • Jacob Duck
  • Willem Cornelisz Duyster
  • Dirck Hals
  • Pieter de Hooch
  • Pieter van Laer
  • Judith Leyster
  • Gabriel Metsu
  • Jan Miel
  • Jan Miense Molenaer
  • Frans van Mieris the Elder
  • Willem van Mieris
  • Adriaen vam Ostade
  • Anthonie Palamedesz
  • Theodoor Rombouts
  • Michael Sweerts
  • Jan Steen
  • Johannes Vermeer
  • Sebastian Vrancx
  • Thomas Wyck

Landscape, seascape, city scape, winter, night

  • Lucas Achtschellinck
  • Jacques d'Arthois
  • Jan Asselijn
  • Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraaten
  • Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem
  • Paul and Mattheus Brill
  • Anthonie van Borssom
  • Jan Dirksz Both
  • Abraham Van Calraet
  • Gillis van Coninxloo
  • Albert Cuyp
  • Dirck Dalens the Elder
  • Guillam Dubois
  • Pieter Janssens Elinga
  • Allaert van Everdingen
  • Abraham Genoels
  • Jan van Goyen
  • Abel Grimmer
  • Joris van der Haagen
  • Jan Hackaert
  • Dirck Helmbreker
  • Jacob de Heusch
  • Willem de Heusch
  • Meindert Hobbema
  • Gillis d'Hondecoeter
  • Cornelis Huysmans
  • Philips Augustijn Immenraet
  • François van Knibbergen
  • Philip de Koninck
  • Govert van der Leeuw
  • Jean-François Millet (I)
  • Pieter de Molijn
  • Frederick de Moucheron
  • Isaac de Moucheron
  • Aert van der Neer
  • Pieter de Neyn
  • Jan van Nickelen
  • Bonaventura Peeters
  • Egbert Van Der Poel
  • Frans Post
  • Adam Pynacker
  • Roelant Roghman
  • Jacob Van Ruisdael
  • Salomon van Ruysdael
  • Marten Rijckaert
  • Pieter Rijsbraeck
  • Herman Saftleven
  • Jacob Savery the Elder
  • Willem Schellinks
  • Hercules Seghers
  • Adriaen van Stalbemt
  • Lucas van Uden
  • Lodewijk de Vadder
  • Adriaen van de Velde
  • Jan Vermeer of Haarlem
  • Daniel Vosmaer
  • Jan Wijnants
  • Jan Wildens
  • Matthias Withoos
  • Gaspar van Wittel
  • Pieter Wouwerman


  • Gerrit Berckheyde
  • Thomas Heeremans
  • Jan van der Heyden
  • Jan van Kessel of Amsterdam


  • Aert Anthonisz
  • Hendrick van Anthonissen
  • Ludolf Bakhuizen
  • Jan Theunisz Blanckerhoff
  • Jan van Capelle
  • Jeronymus van Diest
  • Willem van Diest
  • Andries van Eertvelt
  • Hendrik van Minderhout
  • Pieter Mulier the Elder
  • Reinier Nooms
  • Bonaventura Peeters
  • Jan Peeters I
  • Jan Porcellis
  • Julius Porcellis
  • Isaac Sailmaker
  • Willem van de Velde the Elder
  • Willem van de Velde the Younger
  • Lieve Pieterszoon Verschuier
  • Abraham de Verwer
  • Simon de Vlieger
  • Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom
  • Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen
  • Adam Willaerts

Animals, hunting

  • Jan Fyt
  • Melchior d’Hondecoeter
  • Paulus Potter
  • Roelant Savery
  • Paul de Vos

Still life, flowers, food, vanitas, Trompe l’oeil

  • Willem van Aelst
  • Balthasar van der Ast
  • Jan Anton van der Baren
  • Osias Beert
  • Martin Boelema de Stomme
  • Hans Bollongier
  • Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder
  • Ambrosius Bosschaert II
  • Abraham Bosschaert
  • Johannes Bosschaert
  • Joseph de Bray
  • Elias van den Broeck
  • Pieter Claesz
  • Evert Collier
  • Adriaan Coorte
  • Alexander Coosemans
  • Andries Daniels
  • Cornelis Jacobsz. Delff
  • Isaac van Duynen
  • Floris van Dyck
  • Jan Baptist van Fornenburgh
  • Willem Gabron
  • Pieter Gallis
  • Jan Pauwel Gillemans
  • Nicolaes Gillis
  • Gerrit Willemsz Heda
  • Willem Claeszoon Heda
  • Cornelis de Heem
  • Jan Davidsz. de Heem
  • Jan Janszoon de Heem
  • Jacob van Hulsdonck
  • Willem Kalf
  • Jan van Kessel
  • Cornelis Kick
  • Roelof Koets
  • Nicolaes Lachtropius
  • Simon Luttichuys
  • Cornelis van der Meulen
  • Abraham Mignon
  • Maria van Oosterwijck
  • Clara Peeters
  • Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten
  • Rachel Ruysch
  • Floris van Schooten
  • Otto Marseus van Schrieck
  • Harmen Steenwijck
  • Pieter Steenwijk
  • Christiaen Striep
  • Jan Philips van Thielen
  • Johannes Torrentius
  • Jan Jansz. Treck
  • Jan Jansz. den Uyl
  • Adriaen van Utrecht
  • Jan Jansz. van de Velde
  • Vincent Laurensz van der Vinne
  • Matthias Withoos
  • Catarina Ykens-Floquet
  • Frans Ykens

Others, interiors, skating

  • Hendrick Avercamp
  • Bartholomeus van Bassen
  • Job Berckheyde
  • Abraham Blooteling
  • Dirck van Delen
  • Pieter Janssens Elinga
  • Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg
  • Jacob de Gheyn II
  • Gerard Houckgeest
  • Cornelis de Man
  • Pieter Neefs the Elder
  • Peeter Neeffs (II)
  • Pieter Jansz Saenredam
  • Jacobus Ferdinandus Saey
  • Hendrick van Steenwyck (II)
  • Hendrick Cornelisz van Vliet
  • Paul Vredeman de Vries
  • Isac Vromans
  • Emanuel de Witte

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. Taking only Wouwerman paintings in old royal collections, there are more than 60 in Dresden and over 50 in the Hermitage. But the reputation of the period has shown many changes and shifts of emphasis. 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.