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Lecture 1 – The Dutch Golden Age: Trade, Wealth & Art

About This Webinar

The endless religious wars fought by the emerging Dutch nation against their Habsburg rulers engulfed the former ‘Low Countries’ from 1568 to 1648. It brought untold misery and destruction as over several decades the southern, Catholic, provinces of Flanders separated from the northern, Calvinist United Provinces of the emerging Dutch republic. When peace was finally agreed in 1648, the northern provinces had by then established an enviable level of economic independence, won by the trading activities of what we know as the Dutch East India Company or VOC (the ….). The emergence of the Dutch Republic and its confident mercantile elite in the seventeenth century introduced a new range of subject matter, very much different from the concerns of nearby Flanders. This elite rose to prominence across a series of Dutch towns and cities including Amsterdam, Haarlem, Utrecht and Delft and by then what we might call ‘the art bug’ had gripped all levels of society. Both recording and celebrating this hard-won prosperity, Dutch art of the period, whether in portraiture, landscape or genre, could not be more different from the overtly religious and allegorical tendencies of a world indebted to Rubens and his followers.

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Tom Duncan was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied, successively, Music and then History of Art with Ancient History and Archaeology. He moved to the United States in 1980 to research Late Antiquity and the Early Church. This formative experience brought him to Cambridge, England in 1984 to complete a Ph D on the influence of Early Christian Art on Baroque Painting in Rome. A period as a university lecturer followed, together with many invitations to lecture to organisations such as The Art Fund and The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS). Consequently, he began to lead tours over twenty years ago and in 1999, together with Stephen Brook, founded CICERONI Travel, now one of the UK's most respected independent cultural travel companies. When not lecturing or travelling, he devotes most of his time to gardening, music and opera, the other great interests in his life.
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