Book Series Gouden Eeuw. New Perspectives on Dutch Seventeenth-Century Art, vol. 1

Dutch Golden Age(s): The Shaping of a Cultural Community

Jan Blanc (ed)

  • Pages: 243 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:5 b/w, 60 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59107-0
  • Paperback
  • Available

This volume critically (re-)examines the key building blocks of the construct of the Dutch Golden Age, their origins, the numerous and diverse purposes they have served and their long-lasting cultural and historiographical impact.


“This book is tremendously readable and thought-provoking.” (Tom van der Molen, in Early Modern Low Countries, 5, 2021, p. 186)

“Within the scope of this short review, I can touch upon only a few of the myriad issues raised in this rich volume. Recent initiatives sponsored by The National Institute for the Dutch History of Slavery and its Legacy, the New Netherlands Institute, and other research centers to examine previously overlooked histories make the publication particularly timely. I eagerly await the appearance of subsequent volumes in the series.” (Amy Golahny, in Historians of Netherlandish Art Review, May 2022)


For a long time, the Dutch Golden Age has been regarded as a historiographical construction or reconstruction dating from the second half of the nineteenth century, when the rise of nationalist and even racialist histories and art histories was intended to promote the principle of a Dutch cultural identity, visible and analysable beyond the vicissitudes of time. This volume shows how the notion of the ‘Golden Age’, built on the ancient notion of aetas aurea, was constructed by the Dutch and for the Dutch, at the end of the sixteenth century, first to try to justify the theoretically questionable revolt of the Northern Netherlands against Spanish rule, and then to give shape to the new state and the new society created. However, we will see that there is not one but several possible definitions of this Golden Age, and consequently that it cannot be confined to one conception, so that it would be preferable to speak of a multitude of Dutch Golden Ages.


Introduction (Jan Blanc, University of Geneva)

The making of the Ovidian Golden Age during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (translations, annotations, comments and engravings) (Céline Bohnert, Université de Reims)

Personifying history – Gerard de Lairesse’s Four Ages of Man (Maria Aresin, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich)

Gouden eeuw: the invention of the Dutch Golden Age during the sixteenth and seventeenth century (Jan Blanc, University of Geneva)

‘The most ancient and the finest poets’: naturalness in Dutch Golden Age poetry (Jeroen Jansen, Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Gothic barbarism or Golden Age? The medieval architecture of Utrecht and Paris through the eyes of Arnoldus Buchelius (Stijn Bussels, Leiden University & Lorne Darnell, Courtauld Institute of Art)

Painting foreign lands: localizing the artistic practice of landscape painters during the Dutch Golden Age (Marije Osnabrugge, Université de Genève)

Memory spaces and far away places: Mauritius, Golden Age myths, and the origins of Dutch landscape (Sarah W. Mallory, Harvard University)

Aurea Aetas or Golden Age: different notions to the Dutch seventeenth century in different periods (Maria Holtrop, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)

The Dutch ‘Golden Age’ today – risks and methods (Jan Blanc, University of Geneva)