National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: Johannes Vermeer and Dutch Scenes of Daily Life in the 1600s

Overview | Start Tour

image of Woman Holding a Balance image of A Lady Writing
7 8
« back to Dutch and Flemish painting of the 16th-17th centuries


Artists now use the term genre, a French word meaning “type” or “kind,” to describe scenes showing people at work, play, or rest. The seventeenth-century Dutch, who did more than any other nation to popularize such images, did not see them as a single category but spoke of “merry companies,” “picnics,” “bordello scenes,” and the like. Regardless of the term, the intention of genre painting is not who people are, as with portraiture, but rather what they are doing.



1Pieter de Hooch, A Dutch Courtyard, 1658/1660
2Gabriel Metsu, The Intruder, c. 1660
3Adriaen van Ostade, The Cottage Dooryard, 1673
4Paulus Potter, A Farrier's Shop, 1648
5Jan Steen, The Dancing Couple, 1663
6Gerard ter Borch the Younger, The Suitor's Visit, c. 1658
7Johannes Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance, c. 1664
8Johannes Vermeer, A Lady Writing, c. 1665