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Albert Blankert, Beatrijs Brenninkmeyer-de Rooij, Christopher Brown, Susan Donahue Kuretsky, Eric J. Sluijter, D. P. Snoep, Pieter van Theil, Astrid Tümpel, Christian Tümpel, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., and exhibition coordinator Dewey F. Mosby
Our present appreciation of Dutch 17th-century painting still owes a great deal to 19th-century art critics, who mainly valued the naturalistic qualities of the Dutch masters. A realistic approach may have been the vital force of those artists, but art theory of the period had little appreciation for painters who merely copied nature. In the hierarchy of subjects, portraiture and still life ranked lowest, while the true and highest goal of an artist was to become a history painter, one who depicted ethical ideas through biblical and mythical scenes or allegories. Our traditional way of looking at Dutch art makes us overlook precisely those works the artists themselves esteemed most. Gods, Saints, and Heroes presents a comprehensive survey of an eminent area of Dutch painting and reaffirms the accolades once bestowed on Dutch history painting.