Essay The Art of the Dutch Republic

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The Art of the Dutch Republic

'Dutch art (is) not …a literal record of social experience, but …a document of beliefs.' Do what extent to the following sources support this view with regard to the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century? (750 words)
Human expression provides a mechanism by which human behaviour can be studied by the historian, and in aesthetic expression such as art, the historian can study the beliefs which influence human behaviour. Within the alleged 'Golden Age' of the Dutch Republic can be found a diverse mixture of paintings, and sources 1-3 show three different genres in particular: landscape, portrait and still life. Provided that the limitations of making generalisations over these paintings are considered
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A political belief which can also be represented is the ruined castle, perhaps signifying the fall of the aristocracy and the emergence of the new egalitarian society through the Revolt. It is important to note that such interpretations can differ, and that it is not always possible to make distinctions between 'belief' and 'experience,' nor to gauge an objective opinion on an individual painting. However, source 1 combines a simple conveyance of economic and social life in the Netherlands with some of the religious and social beliefs which shaped this life, much of which is supported by sources 6 and 7. Portraiture in particular was a genre that flourished in the social conditions of the Dutch Republic, with many portraits being bought and commissioned by members of the middle class, which is why William Aglionby states in source 5 'pictures are very common here … across all ranks of the population.' Source 2 shows this aspect of social experience, supported by Simon Schama's view in source 4 that 'at the center of the Dutch world was a burgher, not a bourgeois.' It shows that Dutch social experience was particularly reliant on the middle class, and that professionals worked collaboratively in groups. The patron saint of guilds Matthias is conveyed in this painting, showing a religious significance to their work and perhaps this religious significance is the main reason for the moral values that can be found…

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