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Still life of fruit and a pie on a table

The Royal Collection has a stunning collection of seventeenth century Dutch art


Connoisseurs admired the painstaking finish and astonishing detail of Dutch artists. Such skill was not, however, respected in academic circles, where imagination and invention was valued above manual dexterity. Exacerbating this lack of intellectual rigour was the subject matter, which was considered vulgar and too low for the elevating nature of artistic practice. This was particularly true of genre painting, which focused on everyday events in the lives of ordinary people, rather than drawing on edifying moments from the Bible or mythology. Such attitudes did not dampen enthusiasm for such work, however, and even inspired a raft of imitators, the most illustrious being Sir David Wilkie, a favourite of George IV.

Gabriel Metsu (Leiden 1629-Amsterdam 1667)

The Cello Player

Nicolaes Maes (Dordrecht 1634-Amsterdam 1693)

The listening Housewife

Hendrick Pot (Haarlem c.1585-Amsterdam 1657)

Lady and Gentleman in an Interior, 'A startling Introduction'

Gerard ter Borch (Zwolle 1617-Deventer 1681)

A Gentleman pressing a Lady to drink

Johannes Vermeer (Delft 1632-Delft 1675)

Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman

Jan Steen (Leiden 1626-Leiden 1679)

A Village Revel

Pieter de Hooch (Rotterdam 1629-Amsterdam 1684)

A Courtyard in Delft at Evening: a Woman spinning

Adriaen van Ostade (Haarlem 1610-Haarlem 1685)

The Interior of a Peasant's Cottage

Gerrit Dou (Leiden 1613-Leiden 1675)

The Grocer's Shop