RKD Netherland Institute for art History
Recent technical research at the National Gallery of Art in Washington explores artistic exchange among the painters featured in the exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry (Paris, Dublin, Washington, 2017). This study reveals that these elegant scenes, painted for an elite Dutch art market, shared physical characteristics that defined a collective "high-life" style. At the same time, the research shows that painters each marketed their works by cultivating a distinctive personal manner—and that through subtle variations of technique and materials they could sell at somewhat different price levels. Finally, this technical study offers direct evidence for seventeenth century artists' evaluations of their contemporaries' artistic style: as they selected recognizable features which they quoted in their own works for the amusement of sophisticated collectors.