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Great Expectations: The Golden Age Redeems The Gilded Era

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Chapter Summary

It is no mere accident of collecting history that American museums are replete with exceptional examples of Dutch and Flemish seventeenth-century paintings as Jan Vermeer's Woman Holding a Balance and Antony van Dyck's Lucas van Uffel. The perceived Protestantism of 'Dutch' painting, in contrast to other European and more overtly religious, i.e. Catholic schools, exemplifying the virtues of honesty, diligence and cleanliness sounded the most familiar note to the emerging collecting class of the American East coast steeped in the mores of Puritanism. The phenomenon of the development of this taste for 'Dutch' painting is the subject of this chapter, particularly as it flourished under our Gilded Era super collectors whose conflicting drive both to monumentalize and redeem themselves informed their actions. For the purposes of the chapter the author abides by the anachronistic moniker 'Dutch' which stood for both the Dutch and Flemish schools well into the twentieth century.

Keywords:American museums; Catholic schools; Dutch seventeenth-century paintings; Flemish seventeenth-century paintings; Gilded Era



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