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Part of European Paintings
Jan Steen (Dutch, Leiden 1626–1679 Leiden)
Date: ca. 1670Accession Number: 58.89
Bartholomeus Breenbergh (Dutch, Deventer 1598–1657 Amsterdam)
Date: 1634Accession Number: 1991.305
Adriaen Brouwer (Flemish, Oudenaarde 1605/6–1638 Antwerp)
Date: ca. 1636Accession Number: 32.100.21
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In the eighteenth century, the French term genre covered all types of painting that did not conform to the elevated themes of history, religion, and mythology. Eventually, it came to be applied solely to pictures of "everyday life." Far from being casual depictions of urban or domestic activities, Dutch genre paintings frequently commented on human nature or societal norms, sometimes drawing on sources from the previous century, such as works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his contemporaries. After about 1650, collectors in the newly independent, peaceful, and prosperous Dutch Republic favored scenes of middle- and upper-class society. Fashionably dressed women in fine interiors are courted by (mostly) well-mannered men or are discovered alone—as in many paintings by Gerard ter Borch and Johannes Vermeer. Even the rowdier themes of earlier decades take on a more polished veneer.
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