Thursday, January 26, 2017

NETHERLANDS: ART AND LITERATURE


When it comes to Dutch art, one form dominates them all: painting. A few Dutch painters have become such familiar names that some of their art is now worth millions. 

Vermeer, "The Milkmaid"
Dutch art pretty much started with the Dutch Golden Age. In the 1620s, the Dutch painters grew out of the Baroque period. The Flemish/Dutch painter Rubens brought forth the realistic style of the Baroque. 

Frans Hals, "Willem Heythuijsen"
One of the key characteristics of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age is that artists tended to evoke intimacy and emotion from the viewer. If you were going to make it as a painter during this time and you had a good amount of talent, it was behooving to hook up with wealthy families who commissioned portraits. Portrait painting was the thing and many of them paid well.

Rembrandt, "The Night Watch"
Starting out as a portrait painter, Rembrandt was one of the more famous painters to work during this period. His realistic-style paintings often depicted the suffering in his own life. His most famous painting is probably “The Night Watch.”
 
Vermeer, "The Girl with the Pearl Earring"
Johannes Vermeer is well known for his work with light and shadows. (Perhaps lessons inspired by the chiaroscuro styles of Italy?) He is most famous for his painting “Girl with the Pearl Window.” 

Van Gogh, "Starry Night"
During the 19th century, the Hague School brought Dutch painting to the forefront of the art world at that time. Impressionism also made its way into Amsterdam art studios. Vincent van Gogh, one of the world’s most well-known artists, represented the post-Impressionist period. His unique use of impressionist brush strokes with bright colors and defined edges creates a very eye-catching scene. Today, many of the paintings of Vincent van Gogh have sold between $50-100 million.

example of pointillism by painter Jan Toorop
In the first decade of the 20th century, Dutch painters saw a rise of pointillism style of painting, and not long after, other art movements like cubism and expressionism that were on the rise other places in Europe became popular among Dutch artists as well. As the 20th century rolled on, artists excelled at other mediums: sculpture, design, and public art. 


Dutch-language literature actually encompasses the literature from a number of countries, namely Netherlands, Belgium, Netherlands Antilles (Caribbean Netherlands), and Suriname as well as countries where the Dutch have spent a considerable time, such as Indonesia (or Dutch East Indies as it was called then), South Africa, and French Flanders. The Dutch spoken in South Africa and Namibia actually developed into its own language called Afrikaans, which is a mix of 17th century Dutch with local African languages.



Early on, about the 1113th centuries, the earliest form of literature was poetry. Most of this was about heroic stories of noblemen. Anna Bijns was an important Belgian poet who carried an important message in Dutch-speaking countries: she was quite the 15th century feminist. Translations of the Bible into Dutch were among first books to be printed. After the Netherlands gained its independence, literary topics started to expand. Suddenly, works on government, history, philosophy, religion, culture, and humanities began to emerge. Drama written in Dutch became a thing during the 18thcentury.



As the Netherlands saw a period of political changes and social upheaval, poetry once again rose to the forefront of literature. Probably the most famous writer during this time was Willem Bilderdijk, an intellectual poet. Later on, many poets writing in the style of romantic nationalism introduced works that touched on Dutch culture as well as give a push to Flemish literature. By the late 1800s, a movement by a few Dutch authors called Tachtigers started to show some homage to foreign authors, like Percy Bysshe Shelley as well as influence others like Oscar Wilde.  Poetry and drama were still going strong. WWI and WWII would change things. During WWII, many writers either moved (if they were fortunate) or went underground. One of the most popular required reading selections in schools around the world is the Diary of Anne Frank, a young girl living in Amsterdam who wrote about her life hiding during the war. She later died in a concentration camp in 1943. Today, there are many authors who write in every genre.

Up next: music and dance

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