New Approaches to Old Paintings

Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer @ MFA (Museum of Fine Arts Boston)

It’s funny how things always seem to come together in the strangest way. Today, as I thought about writing this post (which I’ve intended to write for quite some time), I also began to read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. If you’ve read this book, or seen the cover (pictured below), you’d know it focuses on Carel Fabritius’ painting, The Goldfinch. What does this have to do with anything? Well, it turns out Fabritius, a Dutch artist, was Rembrandt’s pupil! Don’t you just love these coincidences?

Before getting more into the exhibition or the book, let’s look at the history: The Dutch Golden Age was a period during the 17th century that arose after Netherlands’ independence from Spain. Inspired by the sovereignty, the Dutch explored light and shadow, different brush strokes, peasant imagery, maritime paintings and much more. The most common artist from this era are Rembrandt and Vermeer (It’s the reason the MFA named it’s exhibition after them. #marketing)

However, the wonderful exhibition also includes artists like Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu. The gallery is split up by socioeconomic classes–upper, middle and lower. Within each, there are multiple sub-categories like nobles, merchants and sailors. The curator took this new approach to fully explore life in Netherlands during the Baroque era.


But the coolest section, displayed in the last room, explores the places where the three classes clash. This room also exhibits three different kinds of dinning sets, each representing a class. It’s unbelievable how different people live. It’s something we need to consider for our generation as well.



Head on over before the exhibition ends! And don’t think I forgot about the book, I’ll hit you guys with my opinion of it once I finish!


Exhibition Information: 

October 11, 2015 – January 18, 2016
Ann and Graham Gund Gallery (Gallery LG31)


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