AH40500 Collecting in The Netherlands

Academic Year 2023/2024

In the Netherlands of the 16th and 17th centuries, paintings were collected in greater numbers and by a more varied cross-section of society than anywhere else in Europe. This module will look at how the inhabitants of this small region acquired, displayed and appreciated painted images on panel and canvas, as well as drawings and prints, books, curiosities of the natural world, and new colonial products such as porcelain and lacquer wares. While the focus will be on the Dutch Republic, we will also consider issues of collecting and the art market in the Spanish Netherlands. Many features of a modern art market first appeared in 16th-century Antwerp: the intermediary role of art dealers in supplying local and international demand, the cultivation of connoisseurs, and the establishment of commercial gallery spaces. In addition to the private consumption of art, institutions like city governments, guilds and militia companies remained an important source of patronage, particularly for portraiture. We will make full use of various facilities in Dublin such as the National Gallery and the library of Trinity College.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Explain and exemplify the main peculiarities and developments in art-collecting practices in the Netherlands between 1500 and 1700;
2. Demonstrate awareness of how the art market and patronage impacted artistic style and subject matter;
3. Assess the role of institutions in commissioning and displaying works of art;
4. Present, orally and in written form, analyses of relevant objects and literature;
5.Engage critically with the primary sources and secondary literature.

Indicative Module Content:

Collecting and Collectors in the Netherlands: An Introduction; Supply and Demand: The Market for Paintings; Authenticity and Value: The Limits of Attribution; Display: Paintings in the Home; Zoological Collections: Frans Post and Brazil; Princely Patronage: The House of Orange as Collectors; Artists as Collectors: Rembrandt and Rubens; Institutional Collecting and Patronage; Art for Clandestine Catholic Chapels; Antwerp Collectors Cabinets; The Fagels: Book Collecting

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Small Group


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures, supplemented by student-led seminar discussions based around core readings. Students are encouraged to advance their knowledge of the history and theory of collecting and the art market in the Netherlands of the early modern period through independent study, and to adopt critical viewpoints with respect to the existing literature. Analysis of contemporary manuscript and published sources will also form part of the teaching approach. Assessment will be by means of reflective learning journals and a short presentation in the National Gallery of Ireland, which will subsequently be developed into an essay. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Journal: After each class, the student formulates and submits a reflective journal around the prescribed reading and lecture content. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Class participation. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: This is based on a short paper presented in front of a designated work of art in the National Gallery of Ireland. Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Midway through the semester, the module co-ordinator will meet with each student to discuss the progress of their learning journal, as well as the requirements for the presentation/essay. Extensive written feedback will be provided to students after the collected journal entries and essays have been submitted.

Name Role
Ms Carla Briggs Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 14:00 - 16:50