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Inscriptions and coats of arms may sometimes grace the memorial tablets and sporadic images decorate the balustrades of the galleries, but everything else is strictly image less.
What made such a prolific artistic production possible and, above all, what led the United Provinces to write a fundamental chapter in the history of European art?
Among the many factors that could be cited, we should mention first of all the vitality of a pictorial tradition that went back to the beginning of the fifteenth century, the golden age of the duchy of Burgundy, and – thanks to the wealth of the cities of the Netherlands and the level of professional expertise demanded by the Burgundian court– that was already included by right among the great artistic schools of Europe.
Instead of negotiating with them, the King's representative in the Netherlands had taken them prisoner.
The ceremony was planned with a dramatic sense of timing.
On another June 5 at 10 o'clock in the morning precisely 80 years earlier, the war had begun, to all intents and purposes, with the execution of two of Holland's first revolutionaries.
The fact that they were easy to handle and were less bulky made it easier to place them on the market.
In the last analysis, that also explains the dissemination on an international scale of seventeenth‐century Dutch works and – unlike, for example, fourteenth ‐ and fifteenth‐century Italian works – their presence in almost every museum collection in the world.
There may be no other country in which in the brief span of a hundred years so many paintings were executed as during the seventeenth century in the United Provinces, in Holland, as this land is commonly called abroad, or the Netherlands, to use the name it gave itself.