The Dutch Golden Age was a period in history spanning much of the 17th century when the Dutch Republic, newly free after the Eighty Years War, was the leading nation of Europe. Flourishing in art, science and trade, the new Dutch Republic was a prosperous, modern nation.
The painting of this era has influences from the European Baroque movement, but lacks a lot of the splendour typical of that style, instead using realist techniques. A major feature of the period was the limited amount of religious painting, and the development instead of specific genres, to one of which each painter generally adhered. These genres included historical paintings, portraits, landscape, maritime, still life and scenes of everyday life. The greatest Dutch painters of this period (the ‘masters’) included Vermeer (1632-1675), Rembrandt (1606-1669), Pieter de Hooch (1617-1684), Jan Steen (1626-1679) and Frans Hals (1580-1666).