Dutch paintings of the seventeenth century—the Golden Age of Rembrandt, Hals, and Vermeer—have been a highlight of The Met collection since its founding in 1870. This exhibition will bring together some of the Museum’s greatest paintings to present this remarkable chapter of art history in a new light. Through roughly seventy-five works of art organized thematically, the exhibition will orient visitors to key issues in seventeenth-century Dutch culture—from debates about religion and conspicuous consumption to painters’ fascination with the domestic lives of women.
The exhibition will provide a fresh perspective on the canon and parameters of the Dutch Golden Age by uniting paintings from The Met’s Benjamin Altman, Robert Lehman, and Jack and Belle Linsky bequests. Works typically displayed separately in the Museum’s galleries—such as Rembrandt’s Gerard de Lairesse and Lairesse’s own Apollo and Aurora—will be presented side by side, producing a visually compelling narrative about the tensions between realism and idealism during this period. The presentation will also provide the opportunity to conserve and display rarely exhibited paintings, including Margareta Haverman’s A Vase of Flowers—one of only two known paintings by the artist and the only painting by an early modern Dutch woman currently in The Met collection. The exhibition takes its title from one of the period’s major works of art theory, Philips Angel’s The Praise of Painting (1642), a pioneering defense of realism in art.