The focus is on artists from Leiden, with the spearhead of work by Rembrandt whose works from the first ten years of his career are included. The remaining work comes from Leiden and Amsterdam, where very recognizable, opposing schools of painting existed in the course of the seventeenth century. Where Leiden could rely on the fine painters who were already praised in their day for their smooth painting technique and lifelike imitation of materials, in Amsterdam the tone was set by painters who followed Rembrandt in a suggestive loose painting style.
The book accompanying the exhibition in Hermitage Amsterdam is unique because of its special attention to ‘history painting’, the most prestigious and most powerful genre in seventeenth-century painting. The Dutch masters can be seen here at the pinnacle of their abilities.