The Coming into being of a new Republic

Group portraits are an important topic in seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Better than any other genre they express the character of Dutch society during the “Golden Age” and reflect the social conditions and bourgeois culture of Dutch cities. Members of the prosperous bourgeoisie regularly sat for fulllength portraits in the company of those with whom they performed their civic duties. In order to avoid the stiff uniformity of motionless sitters lined up in a row, artists tried to enliven their compositions by introducing movement and action. The Kunsthistoriesches museum in Vienna exhibits paintings by Adriaen Backer, Frans Badens, Ferdinand Bol, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Govert Flinck, Bartholomäus van der Helst, Nicolaes Eliasz Pickenoy, and Dirck van Santvoort. The self confidence of the new republic and the regents versus the legacy of Spanish-Habsburg rule was the main message.