Proud of the economic success of their new nation, 17th-century Dutch society placed great emphasis on home comforts and the virtues of domesticity. Particularly in the second half of the century, there was an appetite for paintings that presented an idealised vision of domestic life. Johannes Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch, and Gerard ter Borch are among the many artists who painted scenes of elegant men and women relaxing, making music, or taking care of household duties. They were also skilful in rendering complex lighting effects and displayed their mastery of illusionism and perspective, as was the architectural painter Pieter Saenredam in his depictions of luminous, whitewashed churches.
The same pride in this new nation is seen in paintings representing the world outside. Assembled in this room are depictions of a number of urban centres in the Dutch Republic, identifiable by their characteristic church spires, from Deventer, home to Gerard ter Borch, to Dordrecht, Amsterdam, Haarlem, and Delft, where both Vermeer and De Hooch lived and worked.