Skip to Main Content

Themes and Ideas in Dutch Genre Painting

Among the most memorable images of the Dutch Golden Age are the genre paintings by Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries. Their elegant renderings of men and women writing letters, playing music, and tending to their daily rituals possess a humanity and immediacy that feel both relevant and yet timeless. In Depth: Themes and Ideas in Dutch Genre Painting, inspired by the exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry (2017–2018), explores some of the qualities that make these images so appealing: the stories behind their subjects, the science behind their production, the ideas underlying these exquisite, enduring images.

"In Depth: Themes and Ideas in Dutch Genre Painting," National Gallery of Art, last modified November 3, 2017,

Dutch Burghers and their Wine: Nary a Sour Grape (Audio) / (Video)

Innovation, Competition, and Fine Painting Technique: Marketing High-Life Style in the Dutch 17th Century (Audio) / (Video)

Parrots and People in Dutch Genre Paintings: A Discussion with Dr. Irene Pepperberg on the Role of the African Grey Parrot in the 17th Century (audio)

Pictures in Paintings (Audio) / (Video)

Striking the Right Chord: Seeing Music in Dutch Genre Painting (Audio) / (Video)

Time and Temporality in Seventeenth-Century Genre Painting (Audio) / (Video)

Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: New Insights and Discoveries (Audio) / (Video)

Virtuous Rivalry in the Age of Vermeer (Audio) / (Video)

Bega, Cornelis
Dutch, 1631 - 1664
Borch the Younger, Gerard ter
Dutch, 1617 - 1681
Dou, Gerrit
Dutch, 1613 - 1675
Hooch, Pieter de
Dutch, 1629 - 1684
Metsu, Gabriel
Dutch, 1629 - 1667
Mieris, Frans van
Dutch, 1635 - 1681
Netscher, Caspar
Dutch, 1639 - 1684
Ochtervelt, Jacob
Dutch, 1634 - 1682
Steen, Jan
Dutch, 1625 - 1679
Vermeer, Johannes
Dutch, 1632 - 1675