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Dutch Painters at the Frick

Posted by Susan Benford

An exhibition showcasing Dutch painters, titled Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis, opens at the Frick on October 22. Although this show vermeer girl pearl earring resized 600is a scaled-down version of Girl With a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis, which previously traveled to the De Young and High Art Museums, the Frick exhibition will showcase fifteen remarkable Dutch paintings.

The portraits, genre scenes, vanitas paintings and landscapes by these Dutch painters define the Dutch Golden Age. 

Johann Vermeer - Girl With a Pearl Earring

In the 17th century, Holland was the most urbanized and wealthy European country, with riches accumulated from its dominant maritime trade.  A popular means to demonstrate this newly found wealth was through portraiture, including a subset called tronies.  These bust-length portraits were

Right. Johann Vermeer.  Girl with a Pearl Earring, ca. 1665.  Oil on canvas, approximately 17 1/2" by 15".  Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

studies of facial expressions and postures rather than exact likenesses of the sitter, who was often dressed in exotic clothing.

Indisputably, the most renowned tronie is Girl with a Pearl Earring. 

The full brilliance of Girl with a Pearl Earring is only realizable when one is able to study its 
rembrandt tronie man feathered beretdiversity of brushstrokes: those on the face of the girl, whose identity remains unknown, are smooth and yield her flawless skin, while those in her jacket collar are few, bold, and thickly painted.  The semicircular brushstrokes in her turban, atypical attire for 17th century Holland, are readily discernible.

Rembrandt.  "Tronie" of a Man with a Feathered Beret", 1634 - 40. Oil on panel, 5'3" by 3'11". Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague 

The Girl With a Pearl Earring is simply mesmerizing. No wonder she has earned her own room in all three U. S. venues.  

The Frick is uniquely positioned to add its own twist: Girl with a Pearl Earring will be shown near the three Vermeer paintings owned by the Frick, Girl Interrupted at Her Music (purchased in 1901 for $26,000), Officer and Laughing Girl (purchased in 1911 for $225,000), and Mistress and Maid

Rembrandt Paintings

Tronie of a Man with a Feathered Beret

The man in Tronie of a Man with a Feathered Beret (above right) turns toward the viewer as rembrandt susanna 1936 resized 600if preparing to speak.  Rembrandt's skill in capturing such spontaneous instances results from careful manipulation of light and shade, a talent apparent in many Rembrandt paintings, including his Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild of 1662.  

Remarkably, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69) conveys that the man with a feathered beret is arrogant, as if he deigns to regard the viewer.


Mythological and Biblical nudes such as Susanna recur in Rembrandt's work.  After disrobing in preparation for a bath, Susanna discovers two men, barely visible in the bushes, spying on her.  Embarrassed, she vainly shields her nakedness while gazing outward, as if the viewer were a complicit voyeur.

Rembrandt.  Susanna, 1636.  Oil on panel, approximately 19" by 15".  Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague 

Portrait of an Elderly Man

In one of Rembrandt's last dated portraits, an unknown, unkempt man, with an rembrandt portrait elderly man resized 600unbuttoned jacket and loose collar, is slumping in his chair. Typical of the style of later Rembrandt paintings, some of the work is rendered with precision while some is loosely executed.  

Rembrandt. Portrait of an Elderly Man, 1667. Approximately 2' 8" by 2' 3". Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

Here, the elderly man's face is captured realistically, while his cuffs and hands are executed with only several decisive strokes.  Rembrandt even scratched into wet paint to create the sitter's hair.

Frans Hals - Jacob Olycan and Aletta Hanemans 

Frans Hals' (1582/83-1666) reputation as one of the leading portrait painters in the first half of the 17th century arose mainly from his talent in portraying sitters in a lively frans hals aletta hanemans resized 600manner, as evidenced by the paired, or pendant, portraits of Jacob Olycan and Aletta Hanemans.

Frans Hals.  Aletta Hanemans, 1625.  Approximately 4'1" by 3'2". Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague  

Frans Hals.  Jacob Olycan, 1625.  Approximately 4'1" by 3'2". Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague 

These portraits were likely commissioned to frans hals jacob olycancommemorate the couple's marriage in 1624 when Jacob, a beer maker, was 29 and Aletta was 19.  Their expensive clothing featuring brocade, lace and satin attests to their prosperity.

Pieter Claesz - Vanitas Still Life

The vanitas still life conveys a common theme in much of 17th century Dutch painting: time is fleeting, and rather than become attached to worldly goods, opt instead for a God-fearing lifestyle.

Each object in Vanitas Still Life conveys the finiteness of life, the passage of time, and the inevitability of death -  the crumbling book pages; the skull; a watch; and wispy smoke. The undeniable admonishment from Pieter Claesz (1596/97-1660) is to lead a virtuous life.  

Carel Fabritius - The Goldfinch

Carel Fabritius (1622-1654) is at last earning his due.

Historically overlooked as likely having been the teacher of Johann Vermeer, or simply as a link between he and Rembrandt,claesz vanitas still life resized 600 Fabritius is now applauded as one of the most accomplished Dutch painters of the Golden Age

Pieter Claesz.  Vanitas Still Life, 1630.  Oil on panel, approximately 15" by 22". Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

His mastery of illusionism is exemplified by his diminutive painting, The Goldfinch.  The life-size bird, often kept as a pet in 17th century Holland, is tethered to its perch by a delicate chain.  The angle of the goldfinch and its perch suggests that The Goldfinch was to be hung high on a wall.  

Nicholas Maes - Old Lacemaker

Apprenticed to Rembrandt for several years, Nicholas Maes (1634-93) portrays here an idealized 17th century Dutch woman: from her orderly kitchen, she works studiously to make her own lace, indicating her feminine virtue.   

fabritius the goldfinch resized 600Compositionally, Maes located the lacemaker and cabinet parallel to the picture plane, which, along with a somber palette, contributes to the intimacy of this work. Below, right.  

Carel Fabritius. The Goldfinch, 1654. Oil on panel, approximately 13" by 9". Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Gerard ter Borch - Woman Writing a Letter

Ter Borch (1617-81) painted portraits and genre scenes of middle-class, affluent life in 17th century Holland.  He was intrigued by the effect of light and shade, and was renowned for his skill in painting textures, especially satin.

That skill is apparent in Woman Writing a Letter.  The heft of the oriental rug is palpable, while the light reflecting from the woman's dress and earring are perfectly executed.  Below, left.

Jan Steen

As the Old Sing, So Twitter the Young

Jan Steen (1626-1679) was a highly regarded genre painter who portrayed the middle class instead of the upper and royal classes often painted by contemporary Dutch painters. In many of his nearly 800 paintings, Steen offers a moral lesson, typically as straightforward as that in As the Old Sing, So Twitter the Young: children often replicate the behaviors modeled by adults, so it's best to lead one's life accordingly.

Read more about As the Old Sing, So Writter the Young.

 Girl Eating Oysters

At first glance, this stunning still life is a simple scene of a young girl eating oysters on a table holding a Delft pitcher, a tray with a partially eaten roll, a pile of salt and a paper cone with peppercorns spilling from it.  

But in the mid 17th century when Steen painted Girl Eating Oysters, they were widely considered aphrodisiacs.  So this seemingly innocent, flirtatious girl is loaded with sexual innuendo, further reinforced by the bedroom with a curtained window behind her.  Below, right.

Jacob van Ruysdael - View of Haarlem from the Bleaching Grounds 

Considered the most accomplished landscape painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Jacob ter borch woman writing lettervan Ruysdael (ca. 1629-82) was noted for his realistic sky and clouds, as exemplified by View of Haarlem from the Bleaching Grounds - the firmament occupies  2/3 of this Ruysdael painting.

Gerard ter Borch.  Woman Writing a Letter, ca. 1655.  Oil on panel, approximately 15" by 11".  Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

The subtle gradation in his clouds creates a credible sky with the sun breaking through to the pure dune water; it was believed to be the best possible to bleach local linens. See below, right.

Adriaen Coorte - Still Life with Five Apricots

Still Life with Five Apricots (below, left) is typical of over 60 signed paintings by Adriaen Coorte (ca. 1665-1707/10), which often are:

  • small in scale;
  • of fruits or vegetables, with occasional shells or nuts; 
  • displayed on a stone table; and
  • brilliantly illuminated against a dark background.
Steen Girl Eating Oysters

Nearly nothing is known of Coorte's life, including the year and location of his birth and death, and even whether he supported himself as a painter; it is known that he was penalized in 1696 for selling his work without being a member of the local painters' guild.

Jan Steen.  Girl Eating Oysters, ca. 1658-60.  Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis runs October 22, 2013 to January 19, 2014. 

Jacob van Ruysdael. View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds. Oil on canvas, 1670-1675. Approx. 22" by 24". Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.

ruisdael view haarlem bleaching grounds















Adriaen Coorte.  Still Life with Five Apricots, 1704.  Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.

 Coorte Still life with five apricots resized 600









Tags: Dutch painters, masterpieces of Dutch painting

10 Famous Paintings in the Rijksmuseum

Posted by Susan Benford

Amsterdam's Rijksmusem is the country's national museum, and as such, is home to numerous famous paintings by Dutch painters, including iconic works by Rembrandt and Vermeer.

While its vast collection of Rembrant paintings - especially Night Watch - are the pride of the museum, there are other famous paintings in the Rijksmuseum, with these recommended as must-see masterpieces.vermeer milkmaid resized 600

1. Johann Vermeer: The Milkmaid

Of the 36 fully attributed Vermeer paintings (or 35, according to the Rijksmuseum), four are housed in the Rijksmuseum. 

The Milkmaid is typical of later Vermeer paintings - an interior with one or two women engaged in an everyday activity - here a maid is focused intently on milk twisting from her pitcher, the only movement in this otherwise still painting. 

Johannes Vermeer.  The Kitchen Maid, c. 1658-1660.  Oil on canvas, approximately 18" by 16".  Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Many art history experts believe Vermeer used a camera obscura, an optical tool that projects images and renders reflections as small blobs or points of light, like those on the pitcher's rim and the maid's apron.  Vermeer includes typical objects found in a bourgeois house like the brazier, or footwarming box which held burning coals or fire.  Careful inspection of the Delft tile by the brazier reveals Cupid, perhaps a nod to the allegedly shady reputation of milk maids.

A recent infrared photo of The Milk Maid reveals that the wall above the footwarmer had originally featured a map.  Its elimination keeps the maid, in her vibrantly-hued clothing, the focal point.

Investigate other Vermeer artwork like Girl with a Pearl Earring.

2. Frans Hals: Wedding Portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen

Even for a painter as untraditional as Hals, this wedding portrait was unusual by 17th century Hals Wedding portrait resized 600standards for two reasons:

  • it was rare to show sitters smiling; and

  • it was unusual for a couple to be sitting so closely to one another.

But as a wedding commission, this has traditonal references to fidelity and love.  In the "garden of love" on the right is eryngium thistle, known in Dutch as mannentrouw or male fidelity.  The creeping ivy, which stays green year round, symbolizes eternal love.

Learn more about Frans Hals, and see examples of other famous Hals paintings including The Laughing Cavalier

3. Rembrandt: Jeremia Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem

Jeremia is based on the Biblical story in which Jeremia warned his king that Jerusalem would Rembrandt Jeremia Lamenting Destruction resized 600be leveled if the king didn't acquiesce to his opponents' demands. After this grim prophecy was ingored, the king was blinded and Jerusalem was set on fire.

Rembrandt van Rijn. Jeremia Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, 1630.  Oil on panel, appox. 23" by 18".  Rijksmusem, Amsterdam.

Jeremia himself is painted in extraordinary detail - individual hairs of his beard and tufts in the fur trim are discernible.  The brocade at his feet is so luminous it reads as three dimensional, yet the background - with Jerusalem afire and the king rubbing his newly blinded eyes - is barely worked out.  The focus remains Jeremia's sorrow.

Explore more Rembrandt paintings in the Rijksmuseum.

4. Judith Leyster: Serenade

The influence of Frans Hals is apparent on Judith Leyster (1609-1660), who worked in his studio during her groundbreaking career.  One of the first women of the 17th century to earn her living as a painter, Leyster was also the only female master painter registered with the
leyster-serenadeartists' guild. 

In Serenade, the singing lute player is shown di sotto in su, or from a low vantage point.  Leyster

Judith Leyster.  Serenade, 1629.  Approximately 18" by 14".  Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

painted his breeches out of focus to create the illusion that a viewer gazes up at the lute player from near by.

Learn more about Judith Leyster and see other artworks.

5. Jan Willem Pieneman: Battle of Waterloo

Fought near the village of Waterloo, south of Brussels, Battle of Waterloo is a composite painting of events that did not happen concurrently.  The conclusion of these events was the final defeat of Napoleon, ending twenty years of war.

Wellington, bathed in sunlight, learns (from the hatless man 1/3 of the way over from left) that Prussian troops will shortly arrive to reinforce the Anglo-Dutch army against the French. 

 Crown Prince William of Orange served as Wellington's adjutant and commander of Dutch troops.  The so-called "Hero of Waterloo" lies wounded on a stretcher but smiles at the news.  The commander of the British army, Arthur Wellesley, the duke of Wellington, is on horseback and points toward the approaching Prussians with his tricorne. 

There's no subtley here -- note how dark storm clouds hover over the French while the heroes are illuminated with sun and light.

Pieneman Battle Waterloo resized 600

Jan Willem Pieneman.  The Battle of Waterloo, 1824.  Oil on canvas, approx. 18' 7" by 27'.  Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. 

6. Rembrandt: Early Self Portrait

Rembrandt (1606-1669) first studied painting with Jacob van Swanenburg, a painter in his native Leiden, and then moved to Amsterdam to work for one of the most recognized landscape painters in northern Netherlands, Pieter Lastman.  After that apprenticeship, Rembrandt returned to Leiden where he worked with Jan Lievens for several years before moving permanently to Amsterdam in 1631.

By then, he had begun painting himself, a lifelong endeavor that would ultimately yield over 50 Rembrandt self-portraits. One of the earliest and most enigmatic is his Self Portrait at an Early Age, created when Rembrandt was about 22 years old.

This self-portrait clearly demonstrates that he relished experimentation with light and rembrandt self portrait 1628shadow, portraying himself in raking light, light which hits diagonally and generates high-contrast shadows.

Rembrandt gazes intently and boldly at the viewer, while the most expressive portion of his face is heavily shadowed.

Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait at an Early Age.  Oil on panel, c. 1628.  Approx. 9" by 7.5".  Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

His use of shadow makes you look, and look again.  I suspect that's just what Rembrandt intended.

7. Rembrandt: The Military Company of Captain Frans Bonninck (Night Watch)

After the recent extensive cleaning of Night Watch, it became clear that this wasn't a night scene at all -- but I've a hunch that this nickname isn't going anywhere. 

Read here about Night Watch.  And if you haven't seen how the Rijksmuseum advertised its re-opening with a brilliant use of Night Watch, this exceptional three minute video with bring a smile.  Promise.  

8. Pieter de Hooch: Interior with Women Beside Linen Cupboard

Like many Dutch painters of genre scenes, Pieter de Hooch (c. 1629 - 1684) often conveyed pieter de hooch interior women linen cupboard resized 600moralizing messages in his works.  Hooch's individualized touch was a view of outdoors or an

Pieter de Hooch.  Interior with Women Beside Linen Cupboard, 1663.  Oil on canvas, approx. 28" by 30".  Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

interior room seen through an open window or door, as in Interior with Women Beside Linen Cupboard.

As a child plays with a kolfstok, a type of hockey stick, two women are at work after hitching their skirts to keep them clean.  With brightly illuminated canal houses seen outside, Interior juxtaposes the world of adulthood with that of childhood - work and play; painting and sculpture; age and youth; interior and exterior worlds.

9. Therese Schwartze: Portrait of Lizzie Ansingh

Therese Schwartze (1851-1918) was a celebrated Dutch portraitist who exhibited and received commissions in both the U.S. and Europe.  A member of the Amsterdamse Joffers, a group of schwartze portrait lizzie ansinghfemale painters active around 1900, Schwartze was its most distinguished member.  Remarkably, she became a millionaire from her society portraits.

This informal portrait of Schwartze's niece, fellow painter Lizzie Ansingh, is painted with vigorous, confident brushstrokes; the

Therese Schwartze.  Portrait of Lizzie Ansingh, 1902.  Oil on canvas.  Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. 

contrast of the red accent against Ansingh's chartreuse dress radiates power, which affronted some in Dutch society with Calvinist leanings.  Nonetheless, Schwartze was one of the most highly sought-after portrait painters in the early 20th century. It's astonishing how little she is known in the U.S.

10.  Jan Asselijn: The Threatened Swan

The first acquisition by the Nationale Kunstgalerlj, the forerunner of the Rijksmuseum, The Threated Swan has become a symbol of Dutch national resistance, although it's not certain if its creator, Jan Asselijn (1610-1652), intended it as such.

A swan is ferociously attacking a curious dog, barely visible in the lower left, which approaches 
Jan Asselijn   The Threatened Swan resized 600

her nest.  After The Threatened Swan was completed circa 1650, additional inscriptions were added - one egg reads "Holland" while "enemy of the state" is inscribed next to the dog.  The swan was then intrepreted as symbolizing the Dutch politician, Johan de Witt, who was assassinated in 1672 while protecting his country. 

Regardless of whether Asselijn intended this work as political commentary, he has captured a menacing swan in a breath-taking reality that underscores its ranking as one of the most famous paintings in the Rijksmuseum.

Jan Asselijn.  The Threatened Swan.  Oil on canvas, c. 1650.  Rijksmueum, Amsterdam


Are there Dutch painters not listed above who merit this "Top Ten" list? Please opine!




Tags: Dutch painters, famous paintings Rijksmuseum

Dutch Painters from the Mauritshuis

Posted by Susan Benford

 Although Vermeer is the headline act in the art exhibition, Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch  Paintings from the Mauritshuis, other renowned Dutch painters are included as well.

The Goldfinch, 1654. Oil on panel, apporximately 13" by 9".</em> <em>Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.
Carel Fabritius. The Goldfinch, 1654.
Oil on panel, apporximately 13" by 9".
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.

According to Emilie Gordenker, director of the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague, which owns these Dutch paintings:

What you get from this exhibition is an overview of Dutch paintings at the hand of the very best examples you can imagine."

Among the Dutch painters featured are:

  • the other two leading Dutch painters of the Delft school, Pieter de Hooch and Carel Fabritius
  • Jacob van Ruysdael, (or Ruisdael) the most prominent landscape painter of the Dutch Golden Age;
  • Rembrandt; and
  • Jan Steen.

Here's a look at these famous Dutch painters (and here's more about Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring):

Carel Fabritius (1622-1654)

Although often undersold as a link between Rembrandt and Vermeer - or merely as the teacher of the better known Vermeer - Carel Fabritius (1622-1654) is becoming recognized as one of the most accomplished Dutch painters of the Golden Age.

Fabritius' life was cut tragically short by a munitions explosion and fire that destroyed a quarter of Delft, levelling homes, killing individuals, and flattening Fabritius' studio and destroying most of his works. Two of the few remaining Fabritius paintings are View of Delft and The Goldfinch, both of which showcase his brilliance in creating optical effects.

Believed to have been designed for a perspective box, or a "peepshow" cylindrical optical device used to simulate an interior space, View from Delft shows a vendor of musical instruments with a viola da gamba and lute in the foreground. If this painting were mounted onto a curved canvas, its foreshortening would disappear.

Fabritius view delft

Carel Fabritius. View from Delft, 1652. 3'3" by 6'9". National Gallery, London.

Fabritius' skill with illusionistic effects, in demand from wealthy patrons, is further demonstrated in his painting, The Goldfinch (above right) one of the other stars of Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis. In this diminutive work, approximately 12" by 9", Fabritius paints to scale a goldfinch against a creamy, crumbling plaster wall. The bird, shackled to its perch by a looping, delicate chain, was likely kept as a household pet, many of which were taught to perform tricks.

The sharp angle at which the bird is painted and the angle of the box suggest that The Goldfinch was intended to hang high on a wall. Carel Fabritius' extraordinary trompe l'oeil creates such a convincing effect that one is tempted to touch the bird.

Pieter de Hooch (1628-1684)

In A Man Smoking and a Woman Drinking in a Courtyard, Pieter de Hooch combines a genre painting and a landscape painting in which the clothing provides clues to the identities of the subjects. The man's attire suggests that he is the homeowner, while the simpler clothing of the woman suggests she is his servant. The figure on the right, although wearing a skirt, is actually a boy; it was typical for boys to wear skirts until the age of five.

pieter de hooch man smoking woman drinking

Pieter de Hooch. A Man Smoking and a Woman Drinking, 1658-1660. Oil on canvas, approximately 31" by 26". Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.

The textural detail in A Man Smoking and a Woman Drinking in a Courtyard is remarkable: the brick courtyard is convincingly worn, uneven and bumpy.

Ruisdael View Haarlem Bleaching Grounds

Jacob van Ruysdael. View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds.
Oil on canvas, 1670-1675. Approx. 22" by 24".
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Jacob van Ruysdael (1628/29 - 1682)

View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds demonstrates why Ruysdael was considered the best Dutch landscape painter in the Dutch Golden Age. Although View of Haarlem captures the dunes and pastures typical of the Dutch landscape, it's really all about sky and clouds, which command nearly 2/3 of the canvas.

Clouds range from threatening gray to luminous white, with sunshine breaking through to fields of white linen bleaching in the sun.

Because water from these dunes was pure, bleaching fields like this surrounded 17th century Haarlem.


In the 17th century, a "tronie" was a headshot portrait in which the sitter often wore a costumer or unusual garb (Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is likely the best known tronie). Rembrandt's "Tronie of a Man with a Feathered Beret" delivers a portrait of a pompous man, turned toward the viewer as if on the verge of speaking. Rembrandt flaunts his skill with light and shade to capture a seemingly spontaneous moment.

Rembrandt Tronie Man Feathered Beret

Rembrandt.  "Tronie" of a Man with a Feathered Beret", 1634 - 40.
Oil on panel, 5'3" by 3'11".
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

Unlike many aging painters, Rembrandt continued to innovate and produce remarkable works.

Among these are his Portrait of an Elderly Man of 1667, painted two years before his death and one of Rembrandt's last dated portraits.

The unknown, unshaven sitter is slouching in his chair, with an unbuttoned jacket and untied collar. While his face is rendered with exacting precision, Rembrandt created the sitter's hands and cuffs with a few decisive strokes, even scratching into wet paint to create the sitter's hair.

rembrandt portrait elderly man 1667 resized 600
Portrait of an Elderly Man, 1667.
Approximately 2' 8" by 2' 3". 
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

Even toward the end of his career, Rembrandt was able to capture the essence of his sitter, making faces feel real and contemplative.



Jan Steen (ca. 1626 - 1679)

Jan Steen, a son-in-law and pupil of Jan van Goyen, was a highly regarded Dutch genre painter who portrayed the lives of the Dutch middle class, whereas most works of the time featured the royal and upper classes.

In many of his nearly 800 works, Steen provides an underlying moral lesson, as seen in As the Old Sing, so Twitter the Young.

Steen As Old Sing So Twitter

 Jan Steen.  As the Old Sing, So Twitter the Young, ca. 1665.  Approximately 53" by 64".  Royal Picture Gallery, Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Here, a jovial christening feast has run amok, although the adults are seemingly too busy having fun to notice.

The grownups appear inebriated, and one is even offering alcohol to a child while other children smoke pipes. Steen inserted himself and his children into many paintings - the Rijksmuseum claims that he is likely the bagplayer near the window.

The moral lesson of As the Old Sing, so Twitter the Young isn't subtle but is timeless - because children mimic parents and other adults, it's wise to consider the behavior one is modelling. Or twittering!

Who do you consider to be the most accomplished Dutch Golden Age painter? Or the most impressive Golden Age painting? Perhaps these posts about Dutch painters will provide answers:

Do tell!

Exhibition Schedule

All 35 Dutch paintings in Girl with a Pearl Earring:Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis are at Atlanta's High Museum of Art until September 29, 2013; an abbreviated version of the show, titled Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Paintings from Mauritshuis, will feature 15 Dutch paintings and will be at the Frick Collection in New York from October 22, 2013 until January 19, 2014. Fear not -- it includes Girl with a Pearl Earring (which will again have an exhibition gallery of her own) and The Goldfinch!

Tags: famous painters, dutch golden age, Dutch painters

Famous Paintings: "Waterlilies" and "The Kitchen Maid"

Posted by Susan Benford

Famous paintings by Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) and Johannes  Vermeer (1632-1675) are highlights at New York art museums this fall... and remind me that art appreciation is weakened without the foundation of art history.  As with these masterpieces!

On September 11, 1609, English explorer Henry Hudson first sailed into New York City, subsequently exploring the river later named in his honor.  To commemorate this 400th anniversary, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has loaned Vermeer's The Milk Maid (or The Kitchen Maid) to the Metropolitan Museum.  It appears in the U.S. for the first time in 70 years,  and will star at the Met until 11/29/2009.

For over two hundred years before Vermeer, milk maids and kitchen maids were reputed to be excessively amorous.  Who knew? As a result, these women were painted frequently (and far more frequently than other household employees).  famous paintings pieter de hooch

Pieter de Hooch, A Woman Peeling Apples.  Oil on canvas, c. 1663.  Approximately 28" x 21", The Wallace Collection, London.

Among the Dutch painters who portrayed the kitchen help are Gabriel Metsu, Pieter de Hooch, Hendrick Sorgh, Gerald ter Borch, and Jan Vermeer.

It is generally accepted that Vermeer created 45 works, of which 36 are presently known (and considered masterpieces). All but three of these famous paintings are modest interiors with simple possessions; most are strongly illuminated by light streaming in from the left.  In The Milk Maid, as in many of his other famous paintings, Vermeer has captured a quiet moment of household solitude, an unknown state for a man who reportedly had between

Vermeer Milk Maid

The Kitchen Maid, c. 1658-1660.  Oil on canvas,   Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.  

eleven and fifteen children.  

Many art history experts believe Vermeer used a camera obscura,  an optical tool that projects images and renders reflections as small blobs or points of light; these may be seen on the cheese, the pitcher's rim and the maid's apron.  As a Dutch naturalist, Vermeer includes typical objects of the bourgeois house such as the hamper and brazier, or box which held burning coals or fire.  Careful inspection of the Delft tile by the footwarmer reveals Cupid, perhaps a nod to the allegedly shady reputation of the milk maid.

Over 250 years later, Claude Monet was even more mesmerized by light.  When his first art painting was sold when he was middle-aged -- handled by the art dealer Theo van Gogh, brother of Vincent -  Monet purchased a country home in Giverny.  There, he painted over 200 versions of its gardens and ponds.  Among these masterpieces are the triptych Water Lilies, described by former French President Georges Clemenceau as a "water meadow covered with

famous paintings water lilies

Oil on canvas.  Left panel of triptych, each panel 6'6" x 14'.  Mrs. Simmon Guggenheim Fund, Museum of Modern Art. 

flowers and leaves, ignited by the torch of the sun and glittering in the play of light between the sky and the surface of the water". Who can top that description?

Monet intended that the Water Lilies panels be installed abutting each other to form an oval, thereby creating "the illusion of an endless whole, of water without horizon or bank."   For the first time in eight years, these famous paintings will be exhibited as he intended. I'd vote that it's a must see. 

Note: Of the 36 existing Vermeer paintings officially attributed to him, eight are in U.S. art museums.  The Met has five of these masterpieces while The Frick Collection has three Vermeer paintings. With a nod to my former lifetime in the finance world, that is also known as 22%.  Incredible! 


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Famous Painters Blogroll

Anguissola, Three Sisters Playing Chess and Phillip II of Spain

Beckmann, Blind Man's Buff

Beckmann, Departure; Self-Portrait in Tuxedo; Sinking of Titanic

Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri

BonheurPlowing in the Nivernais

Bonheur, The Horse Fair

Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights

Botticelli, Primavera

Caillebotte, Gustave, The Floor Scrapers; The House Painters; Pont de l'Europe; Paris Street, Rainy Day; Fruit Displayed on a Stand

Caravaggio, Fashion and Art History

CaravaggioConversion of St. Paul

Caravaggio, Young, Sick Bacchus and Basket of Fruit

Caravaggio, Cardsharps and Fortune Teller

Caravaggio, St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy

Caravaggio, Taking of Christ (Kiss of Judas)

Caravaggio Paintings at the Villa Borghese

Cave Paintings

Cezanne, Bathers 

Cezanne, Card Players

Cezanne, Madame Cezanne Paintings

Cezanne, Most Famous Paintings

Cezanne, Red Dress series

Copley, Paul Revere

David, Death of Marat 

David, Death of Socrates

David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps

de Kooning, Retrospective at MoMA (Part I)

de Kooning,Excavation and Painting, 1948 

de KooningWoman I

Degas, The Bellilli Family, The Dance Class, In a Cafe (Absinthe Drinker)

Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People  

Diebenkorn, The Ocean Park Series

Duncanson, Robert Seldon.  Art History Welcomes Duncanson 

Durer, The Four Apostles

El Greco, Burial of Count Orgaz

El Greco, View of Toledo

FontanaPortrait of a Noblewoman

Frankenthaler, Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea

Gainsborough, The Blue Boy

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Judith Beheading Holofernes

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting 

Ghent Altarpiece.  

GiorgioneThree Philosophers 

Goya, Duchess of Alba

Goya, Family of Charles IV

Goya, Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta

Goya, The Third of May 1808 

Goya, Duchess of Alba; Saturn Devouring his Son; Two Old Men; Half-Submerged Dog; Black Paintings

Grunewald, Isenheim Altarpiece

Hals, Banquet of the Officers of the St. George Civic Guard

Hals, The Laughing Cavalier

Hals, Regents of St. Elizabeth's Hospital

Hopper, Nighthawks

Ingres, Grande Odalisque and Portrait of Madame Moissetier

Ingres, Oedipus and the Sphinx

Isenheim Altarpiece

Kahlo, Renowned Frida Kahlo Paintings.  

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting and David Garrick.  

Klimt, The Kiss and Adele Bloch-Bauer

Lawrence, Great Migration Series

Leonardo, Lady with an Ermine

Leonardo, Painter at the Court of Milan, National Gallery, London 

Leonardo, La Bella Principessa 

Leonardo, New Mona Lisa

Leonardo, Benois Madonna and Madonna Litta 

Leonardo, Savior of the World(Salvator Mundi) 

Leonardo, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

Leyster, Famous Female Painters

20 Louvre Paintings not to Miss 

ManetA Bar at the Folies-Bergere

Manet, Luncheon in the Studio

Manet, The Old Musician

Manet, Street Singer

MantegnaDead Christ

Matisse Paintings, In Search of True Painting

Matisse, The DanceThe Music

Matisse, The Cone Collection

Matisse, The Red Studio

Matisse, The Yellow Dress

Michelangelo, Crucifixion with the Madonna

Michelangelo, Famous Paintings

Michelangelo, La Pieta with Two Angels (latest attribution?)

Michelangelo, St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness

Modersohn-Becker, Famous Female Painters

Monet, Impression, Sunrise

Monet, Nymphaes, Le Pont de l'Europe

Monet Paintings at the Marmottan Monet Museum

Monet, Waterlilies

Morisot, Famous Paintings

MorisotMore Famous Paintings

Munch, The Scream

O'Keeffe, Jack in the Pulpit

Peeters, Clara

Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror

Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust

Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein

Picasso, Las Meninas

Piero della Francesca, The Baptism of Christ

Pippin, Domino Players and Cabin in the Cotton

Poussin, Assumption of the Virgin

Raphael, Sistine Madonna

Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer 

Rembrandt, Night Watch

Rembrandt paintings at Frick Show

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait at an Early AgeJeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, The Jewish Bride

Rembrandt, The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild

Rubens, Venus and Adonis

Sanchez Cotan, Spanish Still-life

Sargent, El Jaleo

Sargent, Madame X

Sargent, Smoke of Ambergris

Steen, The Christening Feast 

Steen paintings at Frick Show

Tanner, The Banjo Lesson and The Thankful Poor

Titian, Assumption of the Virgin

Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne

Titian, Man with a Glove

Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, Allegory of Prudence, Jacopa Strada, St. Jerome, Slaying of Marysas

Titian, Rape of Europa

Turner, J. M. W, The Fighting Temeraire

Uccello, Battle of San Romano

van der Weyden, St. Luke Drawing the Virgin

van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait

van Eyck, Adoration of the Lamb

van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece

van Gogh, The Potato Eaters

van GoghMemory of Garden at Etten; Tatched Cottages; White House

van Gogh,  Portrait of Madam Trabuc; Morning: Going Out

van Gogh, Starry Night

van Gogh, Three Pairs of Shoes

Vincent van Gogh paintings up to 1889

Vincent van Gogh paintings, 1888-1890

Vigee-LeBrun, Marie Antoinette and Her Children, Self Portrait, Self-Portrait with Julie

Velazquez, Juan de Pareja

Velazquez, Pope Innocent X

Velazquez, Overview of Famous Paintings

Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring

Vermeer, Saint Praxedis

Vermeer, The Kitchen Maid

Vermeer, The Allegory of Painting

VermeerGirl with the Red Hat

Vigee-LeBrun, Marie Antoinette and Her ChildrenSelf PortraitSelf-Portrait with Julie

Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans

Warhol, Marilyn Diptych and Gold Marilyn 

Warhol, Mao 

Whistler, Whistler's Mother

Anders Zorn

Famous Paintings by Art Museums

Learn about famous paintings to see in these art museums:

Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY). One of those intimate, small art museums with a stellar collectionExplore famous paintings at the Albright-Knox. 

Art Institute of Chicago: Plan to see these famous paintings at the Art Institute -- and download an ebook about them.

Louvre Museum, (Paris): one of the largest art museums in the world! Know which Louvre paintings not to miss in this sortable ebook. 

Mauritshuis Museum: explore works by renowned Dutch painters

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City): download the ebook, Famous-Paintings-Metropolitan-Museum, to learn its must-see masterpieces. Or read the blog post, "Famous Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum". 

National Gallery (London): with 2300 famous paintings alone in its European painting section, discover highlights to see!  Art Paintings to See at the National Gallery.

Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam): 10 famous paintings not to miss

Washington, D.C. Art Museums: Explore forty famous paintings in Washington, DC in this article.

Whitney Museum of American Art.  Don't miss these 10 famous paintings at the Whitney.

Most Popular Posts

Michelangelo PaintingsThe Torment of Saint Anthony; The Manchester Madonna;Holy Family (Doni Tondo); and Entombment

Cave Paintings: explore this prehistoric art in Spain and France.

Picasso's Las Meninas: 58 Picasso paintings inspired by Velazquez's Las Meninas

Ghent Altarpiece: the van Eyck masterpiece, one of the most famous artworks ever made. 

10 Famous Paintings at the Prado. Don't miss a one of these.

Survey of Renaissance Paintings: want to know what Renaissance paintings were all about? Start with 20 of its most famous painters in this sweeping survey! 

Discover more of readers' favorite art history blog posts. 

Female Artists

While we long for the time when artists are artists and genderless, that time isn't yet here.

These are a few of the female artists who've left lasting legacies in the history of painting:

Sofonisba AnguissolaThree Sisters Playing ChessPhillip II of Spain

Rosa Bonheur.  Plowing in the Nivernais.  Horse Fair.

Lavinia Fontana. Portrait of a Noblewoman.

Helen Frankenthaler. Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea. 

Artemisia Gentileschi.  Judith Beheading Holofernes.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting.

Frida Kahlo.  Frida and Diego Rivera.  The Two Fridas.  The Love Embrace of the Universe. 

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting.  David Garrick.

Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun.  Self-Portrait; Marie Antoinette and Her Children; Self-Portrait with Julie

Judith Leyster.  Self-Portrait.  The Proposition. 

Paula Modersohn-Becker. Self-Portrait with an Amber Necklace. Still Life with Goldfish. 

Berthe Morisot.  Refuge in Normandy.  The Cradle. 

Georgia O'Keeffe. Jack in the Pulpit Series. 

Survey of Female Artists

Art History Beyond Europe

A few forays into art outside Europe:

African Art and Bocio

African Mask of Idia


Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Great Wave

The Terracotta Warriors