Immerse in the Dutch Golden Age of Art and Science


January 29, 2016
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Johannes Vermeer “Girl with a Pearl Earring”_Public domain__ via Wikimedia Commons

 Barry’s Greenlaw’s upcoming class, “The Dutch Republic in the Golden Age – and Beyond”, examines the extraordinary richness of Dutch art and science in the 17th century, which allows us to put into perspective the cities, the landscape, and the people of that glorious time period. For those who want to fully immerse in the Dutch Golden Age, David Brauer is also teaching “The Legacy of the Dutch School”, looking at how the Dutch celebrated their new status and wealth with an explosion of exemplary painting which greatly influenced other schools of painting throughout Europe. We visited with Barry to find out more.

WIH Reporter: What is important for us to know about your upcoming class?

Greenlaw: The Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century is one of the great fertile cultural periods in the history of Europe. The combination of economic prosperity brought about, in good part, by domestic and foreign maritime trade, fostered a thriving period of artistic and scientific activity which far surpassed that on any other place in Europe at the time.

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about this period?

Greenlaw: One statistic that overwhelmed me, was the sheer quantity of painting that resulted from this economic prosperity.  It is estimated that well more than a million pictures were painted in the Netherlands during the Dutch Golden Age by thousands of artists – a reflection of the demand by the prosperous Dutch middle and upper classes to perpetuate themselves and their families in portraits, and to demonstrate their pride in their countryside and newly prosperous cities.

WIH Reporter: Do people have mistaken impressions about this time period?

Greenlaw: The fact that while one thinks of prosperity as occurring in times of peace, for much of the Golden Age, the Dutch were at war, first with Spain, and later with Britain and France.  The Dutch relationship with England, in particular, both good and bad, was of major benefit to both countries.

WIH Reporter: What inspired you to create this course about the Dutch Golden Age?

Greenlaw: This course was inspired by an exhibition that my wife and I saw at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam last summer: “Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age” which introduced one of the main themes of this course, that the Golden age was initiated and stimulated not by the aristocratic rulers of the Netherlands, but by the wealthy burghers of Amsterdam and the other urban centers, who were also the main commissioners of much of the art produced.

WIH Reporter: How will your course fit in with David Brauer’s “The Legacy of the Dutch School”?

Greenlaw: The course will cover the period from the Dutch Revolt against Spain in the last years of the 16th century, to the end of the Golden Age, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries – following essentially a chronological timeline with each session focusing on a particular topic such as the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch Enlightenment, Landscape, Cityscape etc. David Brauer’s class will  emphasize art, I will include art (in some sessions quite a bit) but using it as a reflection of the period itself.

Barry Greenlaw’s class,  “The Dutch Republic in the Golden Age – and Beyond”, begins on February 1st, at 1:00 pm and continues for 10 weeks. To find out more about the class, or to register, click here

David Brauer’s class,“The Legacy of the Dutch School”, begins on February 2nd at 1:00 pm and continues for 6 weeks. To find out more about the class, or to register, click here.