Often considered a nineteenth-century historiographical invention, the Dutch notion of «golden age» (gouden or gulden eeuw) was actually constructed at the end of the sixteenth century.
Forged from the texts of Ovid and Virgil (aetas aurea), it first designated the utopia of a society governed by wise men, later prosperous historical periods, before being applied to the United Provinces (Simon Stevin, Karel van Mander, Arnold Houbraken). Located on the crossroads of cultural history, intellectual history and art history, this research project of the Université de Genève (2017-2021, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation), proposes to question the notion of the gouden eeuw by attempting not only to reconstruct its terminological and literary genesis, but also to show how it has become, for scholars, poets and artists, but also for their clients and for the Dutch leaders, a genuine «imagined community» (Benedict Anderson).
In this lecture, we will discuss the main premises of the project, as well as the sub-themes (national and artistic representations, genres, patronage, artistic exchanges).
Jan Blanc is professor of art history at the University of Geneva. He has worked on seventeenth-century Dutch art, eighteenth-century British art and art theory. He devoted his dissertation to the connections between theory and practice in Samuel van Hoogstraten’s work (Peindre et penser la peinture au XVIIe siècle, 2008), after having published an annotated translation of the treatise (Introduction à la haute école de l’art de peinture, 2006). He also published the first complete edition of Sir Joshua Reynolds's writings (2015). He is currently preparing a book on the concept of still leven in seventeenth-century Dutch art and theory (2018). He leads the research project Un Siècle d'or? Repenser la peinture hollandaise du XVIIe siècle (2017-2021), in collaboration with Marije Osnabrugge, Susanne Bartels and Léonie Marquaille.