The Dutch Golden Age: Seventeenth-Century Art and Culture - HART8018

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


This module explores the art and culture of the so-called 'Golden Age' of seventeenth-century Holland, and critically examines the appropriateness of this common way of naming the period. Different types of paintings such as portraits, genre painting and still-life will be studied, and their social functions critically evaluated. The life and work of renowned Dutch masters, such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals, as well as a number of lesser known artists such as Judith Leyster, Jan Steen and Willem Claesz Heda, will be closely examined. Special attention is given to the society and context that produced this art including politics, religion, the art market, the position of women, global trading and the slave trade. Lectures and seminars discuss these themes through the use of visual and written resources. In addition, the seminars are devoted to practical applications of relevant art historical and academic skills (visual analysis, interpretation, evaluation, communication, critical thinking). This is reflected in the assessments that develop progressively to ensure learning outcomes.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 48
Total private study hours: 252
Total module study hours: 300


Optional for MA History & Philosophy of Art and the MA Curating

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Presentation (10 mins plus supporting documentation and peer Q&A) – 20%
Creative Portfolio (2500 words) – 40%
Essay (3000 words) – 40%

Reassessment methods

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Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

Indicative list:
Alpers, S. (1993) The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the 17th Century, Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Alpers, S. (1995) Rembrandt's Enterprise: The Studio and the Market, Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing Ways of Seeing, London: Penguin
Franits, W. (ed.) Looking at Dutch Seventeenth-Century Art: Realism Reconsidered, Cambridge: Cambridge UP
Panofsky, E. (1972 [1939]) Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance, New York: Harper & Row.
Prak, M.R. (2005) The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century: The Golden Age, Cambridge: Cambridge UP
Schama, S. (1887) The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age, New York City: Knopf
Slive, S. (1995) Dutch Painting 1600–1800, New Haven and London: Yale University Press

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the art and culture of seventeenth-century Holland and the international context in which it was produced.
2. Distinguish, describe and interpret a range of artworks representative of the 'Dutch Golden Age' and the style and concerns of the leading artists of the period.
3. Evaluate the interrelations across objects, people and context relevant to the art of the Dutch Golden Age
4. Critically reflect on the role of clients and the market in artistic production during the Dutch Golden Age
5. Identify and assess the different ways in which the art of the Dutch Golden Age is displayed, and the values that these displays articulate
6. Contextualise the role art plays in the formation of national identity and how it shapes our views of the past
7. Assess how art from seventeenth-century Holland has been theorised and presented at different points in history
8. Make comparisons with the visualisations of identity and society through art from other periods and regions.
9. Produce an extended analysis of aspects of Dutch seventeenth-century art demonstrating critical and theoretical rigour.

The intended generic learning outcomes
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Deploy a range of art historical methods, terms and concepts, and demonstrate skills of visual and historical analysis, and critical thinking
2. Develop and apply transferable skills of bibliographical and independent research, and carry out independent and group work
3. Effectively communicate information through different means (orally, written language, use of multimedia), and convincingly present arguments to specialist and non-specialist audiences
4. Utilise, evaluate and prioritise different sources as appropriate, including primary and secondary material, online resources and museum collections
5. Appreciate international contexts and draw fruitful comparisons to their own (ILO)
6. Devise, sustain and successfully present arguments by describing and critically commenting upon scholarship and methodology
7. Manage their own learning and reflect on and conceptualise their understanding by identifying their learning dispositions and successfully applying them in independent research and coursework
8. Demonstrate advanced research and presentation skills.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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