After declaring its de facto independence from Habsburg Spain in 1581, the newly formed Dutch Republic became a laboratory for political and social reform. The republic was characterized by religious tolerance, a large urban middle class, and growing economic and military might. Amid these favorable conditions, an extremely vibrant artistic scene emerged, heralding the arrival of the Dutch Golden Age.

Featuring works from the esteemed collection of Maida and George Abrams (Harvard A.B. ’54, LL.B. ’57), this installation of 31 drawings explores the extraordinary developments in Dutch art in the period between 1590 and 1630.

The works on view present some of the major themes in Dutch art, including the development of high and low genres, the study of landscape, and the interest in the nude; many of these subjects initially emerged in the medium of drawing. Beyond its central role in the creative conception of any work of art, drawing came to be regarded as an autonomous and technically ambitious art form. The works on display celebrate the role of drawing as a catalyst of creativity during the early Golden Age.