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Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer

This groundbreaking exhibition examined 17th-century Dutch paintings in light of the new Republic’s social structure.

Although the Dutch Republic was relatively democratic at the time, class distinctions remained and conveyed a variety of meanings to its citizens.

Through approximately 71 carefully selected and arranged paintings, this exhibition presented the ways in which Dutch pictures reflect various socio-economic groups. Additionally, three place settings featuring the everyday tableware of the upper, middle, and lower classes brought to life the tangible differences within the Republic’s stratified population.

By exploring how class distinctions were expressed and the associations each group held, a more nuanced picture of Dutch society will emerge. Highlights of the exhibition include Vermeer’s A Lady Writing and portraits by Rembrandt and Hals.

A Lady Writing by Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer, Dutch (1632–1675). A Lady Writing, about 1665. Oil on canvas, Overall: 17 11/16 x 15 11/16 inches. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Harry Waldron Havemeyer and Horace Havemeyer, Jr., in memory of their father, Horace Havemeyer, 1962.10.1.

Exhibition Programs


Reflecting On…
6–7 p.m. | Atkins Auditorium
Tickets Required

Four curators reflect on themes presented in the exhibition, including the importance and legacy of 17th-century Dutch painting and depictions of the social classes in art. Works from across art-historical periods and museum collections will be discussed.


Power of Dutch Maps and Landscapes
February 25

17th- and 18th- Century Dutch Design in the Global Marketplace
March 31

17th-Century Dutch Influence in American Scenes of Everyday Life
April 28

Poverty in Early 20th-Century American Photography
May 26

Rank and Status in the Dutch Golden Age
Thursday, March 24
6–7 p.m. | Atkins Auditorium

Join exhibition curator Ronni Baer, William and Ann Elfers Senior Curator of Paintings, Art of Europe, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for a lecture that encourages close looking at portraits, genre scenes, landscapes and seascapes to discover clues to the social standing of the people depicted and the workings of the 17th-century Dutch Republic.


Musical Distinctions Inspired by Rembrandt & Vermeer
Friday, March 18
6:30 pm–7:30 pm | Atkins Auditorium


Distinguished faculty and students from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance and The Sacred Arts Chorale from Central Theological Society present a program of popular Baroque music from the 1600s.


Crossfire Talks: The Social Classes in Dutch Art
Sundays, 2 pm | Exhibition Galleries
Exhibition ticket required

March 20 | The Upper Classes in Dutch Art
April 17 | The Middle Classes in Dutch Art
May 15 | The Lower Classes in Dutch Art

Sunday: 10 AM - 5 PM
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10 AM - 5 PM
Thursday: 10 AM - 9 PM
Friday: 10 AM - 9 PM
Saturday: 10 AM - 5 PM