The Golden Age (logo)
Akersloot Federik Hendrik, Prince of Orange
Willem Outgertsz Akersloot
Frederik Hendrik, Prince of Orange, 1628

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Rembrandt The Three Crosses Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
The Three Crosses, 1660

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This exhibition, on view from March 4 through June 4, features a selection of 45 outstanding prints and drawings from seventeenth-century Holland, called the “Golden Age” of Dutch art.  From religious to genre subjects, to landscape and animal studies, the exhibition examines this important period in Dutch art through works by Jan Both, Adriaen van Ostade, Paulus Potter, Rembrandt van Rijn, Cornelius de Visscher, and Reinier Zeeman, among others.

The Golden Age, which roughly spanned the seventeenth century, was a time when Dutch trade, science, and art were acclaimed throughout the world. During this period the Dutch Republic was establishing new colonies and opening trade routes that turned Amsterdam into an opulent city with an upwardly-mobile merchant class. Its population quadrupled in fifty years, and this growth and prosperity brought more attention to and diverse sponsorship of the visual arts, literature, and science. Following the Reformation early in the century, Protestantism replaced Catholicism as the primary religion in the Netherlands. As a result, Church patronage of the arts virtually ceased, and an emerging broad-based art market created a demand for secularly-themed art. In this rapidly growing middle-class society, the convergence of a new national consciousness and unprecedented economic prosperity led to a remarkable flourishing of artistic creation.

“This is a good opportunity to look at a portion of the collection that doesn’t often get put on view,” says Aprile Gallant, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs.  “We have a nice concentration of seventeenth-century Dutch works—primarily prints, but some drawings—including a recent gift of an Ostade print that hasn’t been displayed before at Smith.”

Another highlight of this show will be the side-by-side installation of two different states of one of the Museum’s prized prints, Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Three Crosses.  The term “state” refers to differing images produced by a single printing plate that has been modified over the course of successive print runs.  SCMA’s Rembrandt print, the fourth and final state of this plate, is a pillar of the Museum’s collection—it was, in fact, the first print to enter the Museum’s collection, given by Smith students as a gift from the “Studio Club” in 1911.  For GoDutch!, this work will be joined by an impression of the third state, on loan from Mary Gordon Roberts (class of 1960), which will dramatically highlight the alterations Rembrandt made in the transition from one state to the next.

The Golden Age was co-curated by Aprile Gallant, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs, and Henriette Kets de Vries, curatorial assistant for special projects. Research and label writing assistance was provided by Curatorial Intern Christine Peterson (class of 2006).

Presentation of this exhibition at SCMA was made possible by generous support from the Tryon Associates Fund. Additional support for the Museum’s special exhibitions and programs is provided by members of the Museum and by the Museum Shop