Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt
Professor William Kloss is an independent art historian and scholar who lectures and writes about a wide range of European and American art. He was educated at Oberlin College, where he earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Art History. He continued his postgraduate work on a teaching fellowship at the University of Michigan and was then awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for two years of study in Rome. As Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Virginia, he taught 17th- and 18th-century European art and 19th-century French art. Professor Kloss has enjoyed a long association with the Smithsonian Institution, presenting more than 150 courses in the United States and abroad on subjects ranging from ancient Greek art to Impressionism to the works of Winslow Homer. He has also been a featured lecturer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and for The Art Institute of Chicago. Professor Kloss serves on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a presidential appointment he has held since 1990. He is the author of several books, including Art in the White House: A Nation's Pride (2nd edition), which won the 2009 National Indie Excellence Award in the Art Category, as well as a 2009 USABookNews award for Best Book in Art. Most recently, he coauthored the United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art. He also has written articles published in Winterthur Portfolio, The Magazine Antiques, American Arts Quarterly, and Antiques & Fine Art.
01: Art and Society in 16th-Century Netherlands
This lecture outlines the art to be discussed and provides historical background about the Protestant Reformation, Catholic Counter-Reformation, and the beginning of the Eighty Years' War between the Northern Netherlands (Holland) and the Spanish-ruled Southern Netherlands (Flanders).
02: The Years of Crisis in the Netherlands
Political and religious clashes of the 1560s led to the Protestant rebellion and, ultimately, the independence of the northern provinces. This lecture concentrates on the art of this period, especially that of Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
03: Art in Haarlem and Utrecht, c. 1530–1625
We look at two significant art centers and works produced by Cornelis van Haarlem, Hendrik Goltzius, Abraham Bloemaert, and Hendrick Terbrugghen.
04: Facing the Truth—Candid Portraits
Portrait painting becomes prominent in Holland in the 17th century, with citizens of the new Dutch Republic eager to record the features of their families and their national leaders.
05: Dutch Portraits, c. 1635–75
We examine some of the finest Dutch portraitists, including Gerard ter Borch, Jan de Bray, and Bartolomeus van der Helst, and note the 1660s shift in taste that led to greater emphasis on artifice and display of skill.
06: Frans Hals—The Early Years
The first of three lectures on Hals—who in a career spanning more than half a century never left Haarlem—discusses his early single portraits and rare genre paintings from about 1611 to about 1633.
07: Frans Hals—Civic Group Portraits
During the same period covered in the last lecture, Hals painted a famous series of group portraits of the Civic Guard Companies of Haarlem. His vivid, animated compositions and vigorous paint surface contrasted strongly with similar portraits by others.
08: Frans Hals—Later Portraits
As Hals aged, he retained all of his astonishing skill and became more penetrating in his characterizations, seeming never to repeat a pose as he found a new invention, a new insight, for each painting.
09: Town and City
In this first lecture devoted to the most inclusive category of Dutch painting—genre painting, or scenes of everyday life—we focus on paintings of public places in town and city, primarily Haarlem and Amsterdam.
10: Daily Life in the Town
This examination of depictions of the public places—inns, taverns, barber and doctor establishments, shops, even brothels—includes the work of painters Judith Leyster, Adriaen van Ostade, and Job Berckheyde.
11: Daily Life in the Home
In Dutch homes of rich or poor or middle class, artists found plentiful settings for all sorts of scenes. Almost always the works carry deeper meaning than the action suggests to a modern viewer.
12: Music and the Studio
Music and art prove to be important genre subjects. Indeed, music was a preoccupation of Dutch art, with romantic and erotic connotations almost always present in musical subjects.
13: Jan Steen—Order and Disorder in Dutch Life
One of the greatest Dutch genre painters, Jan Steen is best known for subjects that often show boisterous activity, a subject seemingly at odds with Calvinist precepts of an orderly life.
14: Pieter de Hooch and Quietude
The quiet pervading much of the work of Pieter de Hooch presents an introverted style, in marked contrast to the extroverted, "loud" paintings of Jan Steen.
15: Art in Delft
The town of Delft was a crucial locale in Dutch history, commerce, and art. In art it will always be associated with Johannes Vermeer.
16: Johannes Vermeer, c. 1655–60
In the first of three lectures on Vermeer, we look at the unexpected beginnings of this short-lived artist, including some works that particularly display his characteristic and miraculous effects of light and profound silence.
17: Johannes Vermeer, c. 1660–65
Between 1660 and 1665, Vermeer painted subjects common to Dutch genre painting, including music and letter writing, but they are infused with his own aura.
18: Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665–70
This lecture includes discussions of renowned paintings like Girl with a Pearl Earring as well as the camera obscura, a visual tool assumed to have been used by Vermeer and other artists.
19: Still-Life Painting, c. 1620–54
This first lecture on still-life painting, a subject which often conveyed the moral of life's brevity, includes the work of Ambrosius Bosschaert, Pieter Claesz, Jan Davidsz de Heem, and Willem Claesz Heda.
20: Still-Life Painting, c. 1652–82
We conclude our examination of still-life painting with a look at the work of artists Samuel van Hoogstraten, Pieter Anraadt, Willem Kalf, Willem van Aelst, Abraham van Beyeren, and Jan Weenix, and also special categories such as illusionistic art, banquet pieces, and dead game.
21: Landscape Painting—The Early Decades
Dutch artists essentially invented naturalistic landscape painting, producing thousands of views of land and sea, in Holland and abroad. This is the first of seven lectures surveying the subject with examples ranging from Hendrik Goltzius around 1600 to the early work of Salomon van Ruysdael around 1630.
22: Landscapes of Jan van Goyen and Rembrandt
We look at the work of the first great genius of Dutch landscape specialists, Jan van Goyen, and also discover that only eight of Rembrandt's landscapes were paintings (he depicted them more often in drawings and prints).
23: Foreign Landscapes
The Dutch were world traders and colonizers, and their interest in the world beyond Holland was expressed in landscapes by painters who went on foreign missions and by others who traveled alone or with other artists, including Frans Post, Allart van Everdingen, and Jan Both.
24: Landscape Painting in the 1640s and 1650s
During the 1640s and 1650s, landscape painting developed from a tonal style to a more colorful style. We look at examples from the work of artists Salomon van Ruysdael, Aert van der Neer, Albert Cuyp, and Paulus Potter.
25: Jacob van Ruisdael
Unanimously agreed to be the greatest Dutch landscape painter, Jacob van Ruisdael produced potent landscapes that featured a rich blend of precise observation and vivid imagination.
26: Dutch Landscape Painting until 1689
This lecture continues with Ruisdael's painting before continuing with two other prominent landscape painters, Philips de Koninck and Meindert Hobbema.
27: Marine Painting
Marine painting—seascapes, beach scenes, lakes, and rivers—unsurprisingly received its first complete exploration by Dutch artists, who came from a nation that had a great navy and was under constant threat of flooding from the sea.
28: The Moral of the Story—History Painting
Although Dutch art is especially known for its specialties, from portraiture to landscape, many Dutch artists also made history paintings, depicting elevated narrative subjects from the Bible, mythology, and ancient or modern political history.
29: The Decoration of the Amsterdam Town Hall
The Town Hall of Amsterdam, when opened in 1655, was considered one of the grandest and most significant buildings in the country. We look at the art commissioned to adorn it.
30: Rembrandt to 1630
The first of seven lectures on Rembrandt includes details about two of his early self-portraits and two significant history paintings that signaled his lifelong dedication to the subject matter in which he would become pre-eminent.
31: Rembrandt in Amsterdam, 1631–34
This examination of Rembrandt's first years in Amsterdam, to which he moved permanently in 1631, includes Saskia, which may be his first portrait—even a wedding portrait—of Saskia van Uylenburgh, the woman he married in 1634.
32: Rembrandt and the Baroque Style
Although he never left Holland, Rembrandt was acutely aware of the extroverted drama of the Baroque style that characterized much Italian and Flemish painting, and it found a place in his art, especially in the mid-1630s, when he painted some of his most dramatic works.
33: Rembrandt's Personal Baroque Style
In the decade that follows, Rembrandt moved away from apparent emulation and reinterpretation of the European Baroque style toward the full maturity of his thirties and a personal Baroque style with a full range of size, subject, and expression.
34: Rembrandt's Etchings
Rembrandt's technical and expressive command of etching was unequalled. This lecture describes the process and examines a dozen examples from the 1630s to the 1650s.
35: Rembrandt in the 1650s
This lecture looks at portraits and religious paintings infused with the ever-deepening emotion and inwardness of Rembrandt's art that we first saw in several etchings discussed in the previous lecture.
36: Rembrandt's Last Years
This final lecture features some memorable paintings of the last decade of Rembrandt's life. It discusses the fascination Dutch artists showed in creating their seemingly realistic record of the world with a lifelikeness and truthfulness that have made Dutch art of the Golden Age recognized everywhere.