History Painting in the Netherlands, 1600–1700
Subjects from history, mythology, and the Bible enjoyed steady popularity in both the North and South Netherlands throughout the 17th century.
In the Catholic Southern Netherlands, artists benefitted from both Church and private patronage for religious works. In the Northern Netherlands, however, which in the 17th century was largely Protestant, most religious paintings were made for private patrons or for a handful of ‘hidden’ Catholic churches.
The most powerful religious images were simple, direct and compelling, and were deliberately intended to encourage introspection and piety on the part of the viewer.