1. revolts against Spanish despots begin
Decentralization pervades Dutch politics, life

-Why? Did not want to substitute one form of tyranny for another

Contrast with Louis XIV: centralization, top-down rule

Decentralization is attractive to certain artists and philosophers

Amsterdam Today (EL) 

The churches disconnect from the artists

John Calvin (1536) Institutes of the Christian Religion

-Purpose of churchgoing: to praise God

-embellishments such as ornate architecture, statuary, professional choirs and orchestras are distractions to that purpose.


Shunned categories of painting

  1. history scenes, since they recalled oppressive aristocratic authorities
  2. traditional Roman Catholic scenes, since they were either theologically erroneous or distracting to message

Embraced categories of painting

  1. Landscapes
  2. Genre scenes
  3. Still-life
  4. Portraiture

The Painters

Rembrandt van Rijn

1)-group pictures


Sortie of Captain Banning Cocq's Company of the Civic Guard, 1642

-foreshortened hand, weaponry

-characters in depth

-play on light

-emphasis on movement, energy, propulsion (coming forward)

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Officers of the Harleem Militia Company of St. Adrian (EL)

2)-individualism; introspection


3)-religious subjects

-victory of Christ and contemplation over glory of the Church

-interpretation of Protestant conception of Scripture

Rembrandt and etching...

Frans Hals

Lute Player with Wine Glass 1626


-focus on character over situation; relate subject to ourselves; compare ourselves with them

-brushwork brings instant image

Jakob van Ruisdael

-The Jewish Cemetery (El) ® reminds us of death, but also of tolerance of Dutch

Theo Van Gogh: Contemporary inclusiveness? 

View of Haarlem from the Dunes at Overveen

Jan Vermeer

-most highly regarded of "little Dutch masters"

-raises ordinary act to religious significance

-Rembrandt emphasizes internal light; Vermeer emphasizes external light

View of Deft

Officer and Laughing Girl

Art of Painting




-worked in more permissive Dutch tradition


-organist, composer for St. Thomas’s Lutheran Church in Leipzig

-music was "deeply rooted in the soil of German Reformation"

-Lutherans were more liberal with respect to music


-St. Matthew Passion1     2   , an oratorio, grows out of a cantata

-chorus: mob, then body of faithful Christians

-Other Samples:

Video ( Koopman - Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra )




Jan Steen (The Happy Company)

Contributing factors:

  1. colder Northern climate (Europe's Little Ice Age and Today)
  2. history of struggle against Spanish crown and French meddling
  3. Protestant movement emphasizes individuality
    1. "Rome doesn’t own me" (political)
    2. "The pope doesn’t own me" (religious)

Domesticity and the Arts


Dynamics of the Baroque

-oppositions that cannot be reconciled were made to coexist

-Rationalism vs. Mysticism

-Catholicism ("universal") vs. Protestantism

-religious orthodoxy vs. freedom of thought (not only in Catholicism!!)

-Absolute monarchy vs. republican commonwealth

-free exchange of ideas (printing press) vs. their suppression

-bold scientific thinking vs. religious renewal

Newton’s Principia and John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress published within 2 years of each other

-expansion of Space and Time

  1. Astronomy

  2. -space is much bigger, perhaps infinite

  3. Architecture

  4. -increasing space 

  5. Painting

  6. -light conveys grandiosity of infinity

    -gradations of light convey infinity as well

  7. Music
-new emphasis on chromatic scale divided by 11 half tones instead of 7 note scales

-adding new bass and soprano instruments to attain new frequencies

-doubling instruments to increase volume