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Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt

An independent art historian introduces you to the creative and talented people who made the art of Holland so special.
Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt is rated 4.9 out of 5 by 98.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Infectious passion I am reasonably familiar with art history generally, and frankly Dutch baroque rates fairly low in my rankings. It's always struck me as too dark and fairly dull subjects. But Dr. Kloss is so clearly excited about it that you can't help but come away with a stronger affection for it. He doesn't skimp on the technical details, but it's the emotional response the pictures engender is what I'll remember most.
Date published: 2024-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best! I am but half way through this course and am already mourning the eventual end. There are some wonderful professors but none more than Mr. Kloss. If only there were a hundred art courses taught by him!
Date published: 2024-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sorry This Course Ever Had To End It does not surprise me, when I browse the “Top-Rated” section of the complete Great Courses catalogue, to see that “Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt” appears near the head of the list. I also notice that most of the course’s reviewers use the same caliber of superlatives in describing the work of Professor William Kloss that Kloss himself uses when praising the art treasures discussed in his lectures. Both the featured artworks and their presenter/analyst are extraordinary. I have to chuckle at myself when I recall that, upon first noticing that seven of these thirty-six lectures were going to be particularly about Rembrandt, I hoped that I wouldn’t find that too many; yet, by the end of the course, I felt I’d have loved to hear Professor Kloss go on and on sharing his insights about Rembrandt, plus perhaps giving us at least seven full lectures about each of numerous others: Hals, Vermeer, Steen, Hooch, Terbrugghen, Fabritius, etc. There were evidently so very many Dutch master painters from their shared time and place; and what a master teacher Professor Kloss is!
Date published: 2023-11-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A thorough overview of this fascinating period This is a very thorough and detailed review of the dutch golden age of art. The lecturer is engaging and friendly, and shares his personal passion for the subject. He combines art appreciation with historical and cultural context, to make the course more interesting. I would have welcomed a bit more of the cultural, historical and economic context - for example, about the art market and the dutch economy, but it is still a very informative course.
Date published: 2023-11-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing I paid for Wondrium expressly to access the lectures by 'professor' Kloss (not actually a professor since he has only a master's degree) because i am working on my doctoral thesis & want to make sure I listen/read all the experts. He sometimes goes deep, at others glosses over vital information (when discussing the Berlin Susana & the Elders, for example, he failed to mention the entire thing excepting the figure of Susana was painted over by Joshua Reynolds in the 18th century), but it is his delivery that really makes it a chore to listen to his information. Why stand in an empty room pretending to speak to an audience, instead of speaking directly to us? The whole thing was a disappointment & I consider my $150 to wondrium, money wasted. When I cancelled my membership, I received an offer to rejoin at a discount, which really made me feel the full weight of being conned! Wondrium should do better, masterclass finds top people in the field, & they cost less than Wondrium
Date published: 2023-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hard to Believe I never thought I would say this, but I believe with this course Professor Kloss surpasses even his treatment of the Italian Renaissance Masters, in both his depth of analysis and his articulation of key concepts. A particularly good value, too.
Date published: 2023-02-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from History vs. analysis I expected this course to be similar to my previous course "From Monet to Van Gogh, namely primarily an analysis of the paintings and some historical background. This course, "Dutch Masters", seems to be more of a history course illustrated with paintings.
Date published: 2022-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful but thoroughly entertaining Being retired and having ceased full-time education more than 45 years ago I can't vouch for the value of this course from a purely academic point of view. I buy TGC courses in those subjects that I have a big interest in (chiefly art and music but some history) because I want to learn more but also largely for entertainment purposes. This course satisfied both those requirements in great measure. Professor Kloss only deals with art techniques to a limited degree and focuses more on the composition of the paintings. Indeed, sometimes you might think he is only telling you what you can see for yourself. But the point is, very often you wouldn't. You would miss those details and move on to the next painting. Allied to lots of background details on the artists and historical context this course really delivers on broadening your knowledge and appreciation of the subject. And of course it introduces you to many works that you might not otherwise get to see. The balance between seeing Professor Kloss on screen and the time given to viewing the paintings is also very good, meaning you don't need to pause the lecture to take in more detail. I found his style very engaging and involving. I look forward to viewing other courses by him.
Date published: 2022-02-03
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Holland in the 17th century was home to the most remarkable concentration of artistic talent in modern history, including masters such as Hals, Vermeer, and-of course-Rembrandt. Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt introduces you to this important period in art history. Professor William Kloss, an independent art historian with the Smithsonian Institution, guides you through the work of more than 100 artists and more than 450 of their masterful paintings. Whether you're new to art or an experienced museumgoer, Dutch Masters is a delightful course, filled with insights into the explosive inventiveness of Dutch art as it interpreted and reinvented the reality of one of the most dynamic nations in 17th-century Europe.


William Kloss

Standards of beauty are seemingly endless and contradictory, which is why the rather hopeless phrase 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' was coined.


Independent Art Historian

Professor William Kloss is an independent art historian and scholar who lectures and writes about a wide range of European and American art. He was educated at Oberlin College, where he earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Art History. He continued his postgraduate work on a teaching fellowship at the University of Michigan and was then awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for two years of study in Rome. As Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Virginia, he taught 17th- and 18th-century European art and 19th-century French art. Professor Kloss has enjoyed a long association with the Smithsonian Institution, presenting more than 150 courses in the United States and abroad on subjects ranging from ancient Greek art to Impressionism to the works of Winslow Homer. He has also been a featured lecturer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and for The Art Institute of Chicago. Professor Kloss serves on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a presidential appointment he has held since 1990. He is the author of several books, including Art in the White House: A Nation's Pride (2nd edition), which won the 2009 National Indie Excellence Award in the Art Category, as well as a 2009 USABookNews award for Best Book in Art. Most recently, he coauthored the United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art. He also has written articles published in Winterthur Portfolio, The Magazine Antiques, American Arts Quarterly, and Antiques & Fine Art.

By This Expert

A History of European Art
Art and Society in 16th-Century Netherlands

01: Art and Society in 16th-Century Netherlands

This lecture outlines the art to be discussed and provides historical background about the Protestant Reformation, Catholic Counter-Reformation, and the beginning of the Eighty Years' War between the Northern Netherlands (Holland) and the Spanish-ruled Southern Netherlands (Flanders).

32 min
The Years of Crisis in the Netherlands

02: The Years of Crisis in the Netherlands

Political and religious clashes of the 1560s led to the Protestant rebellion and, ultimately, the independence of the northern provinces. This lecture concentrates on the art of this period, especially that of Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

29 min
Art in Haarlem and Utrecht, c. 1530–1625

03: Art in Haarlem and Utrecht, c. 1530–1625

We look at two significant art centers and works produced by Cornelis van Haarlem, Hendrik Goltzius, Abraham Bloemaert, and Hendrick Terbrugghen.

30 min
Facing the Truth—Candid Portraits

04: Facing the Truth—Candid Portraits

Portrait painting becomes prominent in Holland in the 17th century, with citizens of the new Dutch Republic eager to record the features of their families and their national leaders.

31 min
Dutch Portraits, c. 1635–75

05: Dutch Portraits, c. 1635–75

We examine some of the finest Dutch portraitists, including Gerard ter Borch, Jan de Bray, and Bartolomeus van der Helst, and note the 1660s shift in taste that led to greater emphasis on artifice and display of skill.

30 min
Frans Hals—The Early Years

06: Frans Hals—The Early Years

The first of three lectures on Hals—who in a career spanning more than half a century never left Haarlem—discusses his early single portraits and rare genre paintings from about 1611 to about 1633.

30 min
Frans Hals—Civic Group Portraits

07: Frans Hals—Civic Group Portraits

During the same period covered in the last lecture, Hals painted a famous series of group portraits of the Civic Guard Companies of Haarlem. His vivid, animated compositions and vigorous paint surface contrasted strongly with similar portraits by others.

30 min
Frans Hals—Later Portraits

08: Frans Hals—Later Portraits

As Hals aged, he retained all of his astonishing skill and became more penetrating in his characterizations, seeming never to repeat a pose as he found a new invention, a new insight, for each painting.

29 min
Town and City

09: Town and City

In this first lecture devoted to the most inclusive category of Dutch painting—genre painting, or scenes of everyday life—we focus on paintings of public places in town and city, primarily Haarlem and Amsterdam.

31 min
Daily Life in the Town

10: Daily Life in the Town

This examination of depictions of the public places—inns, taverns, barber and doctor establishments, shops, even brothels—includes the work of painters Judith Leyster, Adriaen van Ostade, and Job Berckheyde.

30 min
Daily Life in the Home

11: Daily Life in the Home

In Dutch homes of rich or poor or middle class, artists found plentiful settings for all sorts of scenes. Almost always the works carry deeper meaning than the action suggests to a modern viewer.

29 min
Music and the Studio

12: Music and the Studio

Music and art prove to be important genre subjects. Indeed, music was a preoccupation of Dutch art, with romantic and erotic connotations almost always present in musical subjects.

30 min
Jan Steen—Order and Disorder in Dutch Life

13: Jan Steen—Order and Disorder in Dutch Life

One of the greatest Dutch genre painters, Jan Steen is best known for subjects that often show boisterous activity, a subject seemingly at odds with Calvinist precepts of an orderly life.

31 min
Pieter de Hooch and Quietude

14: Pieter de Hooch and Quietude

The quiet pervading much of the work of Pieter de Hooch presents an introverted style, in marked contrast to the extroverted, "loud" paintings of Jan Steen.

31 min
Art in Delft

15: Art in Delft

The town of Delft was a crucial locale in Dutch history, commerce, and art. In art it will always be associated with Johannes Vermeer.

29 min
Johannes Vermeer, c. 1655–60

16: Johannes Vermeer, c. 1655–60

In the first of three lectures on Vermeer, we look at the unexpected beginnings of this short-lived artist, including some works that particularly display his characteristic and miraculous effects of light and profound silence.

30 min
Johannes Vermeer, c. 1660–65

17: Johannes Vermeer, c. 1660–65

Between 1660 and 1665, Vermeer painted subjects common to Dutch genre painting, including music and letter writing, but they are infused with his own aura.

32 min
Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665–70

18: Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665–70

This lecture includes discussions of renowned paintings like Girl with a Pearl Earring as well as the camera obscura, a visual tool assumed to have been used by Vermeer and other artists.

29 min
Still-Life Painting, c. 1620–54

19: Still-Life Painting, c. 1620–54

This first lecture on still-life painting, a subject which often conveyed the moral of life's brevity, includes the work of Ambrosius Bosschaert, Pieter Claesz, Jan Davidsz de Heem, and Willem Claesz Heda.

30 min
Still-Life Painting, c. 1652–82

20: Still-Life Painting, c. 1652–82

We conclude our examination of still-life painting with a look at the work of artists Samuel van Hoogstraten, Pieter Anraadt, Willem Kalf, Willem van Aelst, Abraham van Beyeren, and Jan Weenix, and also special categories such as illusionistic art, banquet pieces, and dead game.

30 min
Landscape Painting—The Early Decades

21: Landscape Painting—The Early Decades

Dutch artists essentially invented naturalistic landscape painting, producing thousands of views of land and sea, in Holland and abroad. This is the first of seven lectures surveying the subject with examples ranging from Hendrik Goltzius around 1600 to the early work of Salomon van Ruysdael around 1630.

29 min
Landscapes of Jan van Goyen and Rembrandt

22: Landscapes of Jan van Goyen and Rembrandt

We look at the work of the first great genius of Dutch landscape specialists, Jan van Goyen, and also discover that only eight of Rembrandt's landscapes were paintings (he depicted them more often in drawings and prints).

31 min
Foreign Landscapes

23: Foreign Landscapes

The Dutch were world traders and colonizers, and their interest in the world beyond Holland was expressed in landscapes by painters who went on foreign missions and by others who traveled alone or with other artists, including Frans Post, Allart van Everdingen, and Jan Both.

29 min
Landscape Painting in the 1640s and 1650s

24: Landscape Painting in the 1640s and 1650s

During the 1640s and 1650s, landscape painting developed from a tonal style to a more colorful style. We look at examples from the work of artists Salomon van Ruysdael, Aert van der Neer, Albert Cuyp, and Paulus Potter.

30 min
Jacob van Ruisdael

25: Jacob van Ruisdael

Unanimously agreed to be the greatest Dutch landscape painter, Jacob van Ruisdael produced potent landscapes that featured a rich blend of precise observation and vivid imagination.

30 min
Dutch Landscape Painting until 1689

26: Dutch Landscape Painting until 1689

This lecture continues with Ruisdael's painting before continuing with two other prominent landscape painters, Philips de Koninck and Meindert Hobbema.

30 min
Marine Painting

27: Marine Painting

Marine painting—seascapes, beach scenes, lakes, and rivers—unsurprisingly received its first complete exploration by Dutch artists, who came from a nation that had a great navy and was under constant threat of flooding from the sea.

30 min
The Moral of the Story—History Painting

28: The Moral of the Story—History Painting

Although Dutch art is especially known for its specialties, from portraiture to landscape, many Dutch artists also made history paintings, depicting elevated narrative subjects from the Bible, mythology, and ancient or modern political history.

30 min
The Decoration of the Amsterdam Town Hall

29: The Decoration of the Amsterdam Town Hall

The Town Hall of Amsterdam, when opened in 1655, was considered one of the grandest and most significant buildings in the country. We look at the art commissioned to adorn it.

30 min
Rembrandt to 1630

30: Rembrandt to 1630

The first of seven lectures on Rembrandt includes details about two of his early self-portraits and two significant history paintings that signaled his lifelong dedication to the subject matter in which he would become pre-eminent.

30 min
Rembrandt in Amsterdam, 1631–34

31: Rembrandt in Amsterdam, 1631–34

This examination of Rembrandt's first years in Amsterdam, to which he moved permanently in 1631, includes Saskia, which may be his first portrait—even a wedding portrait—of Saskia van Uylenburgh, the woman he married in 1634.

30 min
Rembrandt and the Baroque Style

32: Rembrandt and the Baroque Style

Although he never left Holland, Rembrandt was acutely aware of the extroverted drama of the Baroque style that characterized much Italian and Flemish painting, and it found a place in his art, especially in the mid-1630s, when he painted some of his most dramatic works.

30 min
Rembrandt's Personal Baroque Style

33: Rembrandt's Personal Baroque Style

In the decade that follows, Rembrandt moved away from apparent emulation and reinterpretation of the European Baroque style toward the full maturity of his thirties and a personal Baroque style with a full range of size, subject, and expression.

30 min
Rembrandt's Etchings

34: Rembrandt's Etchings

Rembrandt's technical and expressive command of etching was unequalled. This lecture describes the process and examines a dozen examples from the 1630s to the 1650s.

31 min
Rembrandt in the 1650s

35: Rembrandt in the 1650s

This lecture looks at portraits and religious paintings infused with the ever-deepening emotion and inwardness of Rembrandt's art that we first saw in several etchings discussed in the previous lecture.

30 min
Rembrandt's Last Years

36: Rembrandt's Last Years

This final lecture features some memorable paintings of the last decade of Rembrandt's life. It discusses the fascination Dutch artists showed in creating their seemingly realistic record of the world with a lifelikeness and truthfulness that have made Dutch art of the Golden Age recognized everywhere.

30 min