Seventeenth-century Dutch painting stands out from other art of the same period and even more so from that of previous centuries on account of its apparently ‘everyday’ character. Works by artists such as Johannes Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch and Jacob van Ruisdael seem to offer a faithful picture of life in the Netherlands at the time. In studying this free course, Dutch painting of the Golden Age, you will discover that there is much more to Dutch painting than meets the eye. You will explore scholarly debates about the possible meanings that might be attributed to this type of picture and learn how the very idea of ‘realism’ in art has been challenged in recent times.
Course learning outcomes
After studying this course, you should be able to:
explore recent debates around the interpretation of seventeenth-century Dutch painting
consider the strengths and limitations of iconology as an art-historical approach
examine the notion of ‘realism’ as applied to works of art
address the relevance of social and cultural context for interpreting works of art
analyse works of art in terms of different ideas and approaches.
You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.
Creative commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence.
However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These
materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions377 and our FAQs378.
Full copyright details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of each week.
For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.
Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University.
The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now.
Take a look at all Open University courses.
If you are new to University-level study,
we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an
Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on
Where to take your learning next for more information.