The Netherlands 1600-1700
Merchants and New Worlds
In the 17th century the Netherlands experienced a period of pronounced cultural growth that saw the emergence of many new talented artists and new themes being addressed in art.
This was linked to very pronounced economic growth prompted by Amsterdam’s new status as the centre of ocean trade.
Goods from the colonies were unloaded here and sold on with huge profit margins to the many merchants who held shares in the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company.
The import of goods and the general affluence is reflected in e.g. still lifes depicting exotic fruit and flowers and in lavish pieces of applied arts created out of ivory, gold, and gemstones.
The new, affluent merchant class created a market for e.g. smaller paintings of domestic scenes. Paintings sold as pairs were very popular, as the interior design standards of the day favoured symmetry based around doors and windows.