Netherlands: The Dutch Golden Age
The Golden Age
Throughout the 17th century, the Dutch led the world in trade, art, exploration, science, and innovation of all kinds. Historians call this period the ‘Dutch Golden Age’ and with good reason – the country became one of the wealthiest and most powerful in the world.
Spices from Asia were, literally, worth more than their weight in gold. And, in 1602, the Dutch East India Company was established to import and export spices like cinnamon, cardamom, pepper corn, ginger, and turmeric between their origin point in Asia and the high paying markets of Europe.
The Dutch East India Company quickly became the number one trader of Asian goods in Europe, leading to sizable profits for those involved. By the 1670s, ten percent of Dutch adult males were sailors, and the Netherlands had more ships than England, France, Portugal, and Spain combined!
So, what did they do with all this newfound wealth? The money generated was used to finance yet more empire-building and to support architecture, philosophy, religious buildings, sciences, and ART!
Art absolutely flourished during the Golden Age. For the first time in history, regular Dutch citizens could afford to purchase paintings and works of decorative art. Dutch paintings from the 17th century feature landscapes, scenes from the sea, representations of the country’s military power, homes and everyday objects and, above all, portraits of the proud Dutch themselves.
I think that’s one of my favorite things about art. Paintings, sculptures, music…every work of art tells a story, you just have to keep your ears and eyes open.