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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


During the seventeenth century, a burgeoning mercantile class eager to display their new-found wealth became a rich source of commissions for portrait painters. Strict Calvinistic principles precluded excessive rhetoric, meaning that, in general, portraiture of the time was characterised by sombre clothing and undemonstrative poses. Even a full-length might be construed as extravagant. The portraits selected here demonstrate a departure from that formulaic norm. It was thought that the inclusion of props, possessions or views of land in the background would demonstrate pride and, as such, there is a certain conventionality about many Dutch portraits.

Jan de Bray (Haarlem c.1627-Haarlem 1697)

The Banquet of Cleopatra

Jan de Baen (Haarlem 1633-The Hague 1702)

William III when Prince of Orange (1650-1702)

Frans Hals (Antwerp c.1580-Haarlem 1666)

Portrait of a Man

Melchior de Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636-Amsterdam 1695)

Johan Ortt (1642-1701) on Horseback outside the Gate of Nijenrode Castle

Gabriel Metsu (Leiden 1629-Amsterdam 1667)

A Self-Portrait standing at a window