17th century

The 17th century is sometimes known as the Baroque era.

Drama and movement are the distinctive features of the art of this period. The clear lines and central perspective that were dominant during the Renaissance gave way to diagonals. Landscape, portrait and still life became increasingly popular genres.

The Dutch artist Rembrandt, one of the 17th century’s greatest artists, is well represented in Nationalmuseum. Like his Flemish counterpart Peter Paul Rubens, he had many pupils in his studio. Rubens worked in Flanders, present-day Belgium, which was still Catholic. Holland, or the Netherlands, comprised a group of allied provinces with freedom of religion, where Protestantism had taken root.

In Sweden we had David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, a court painter originally from Germany. He was the first artist in Sweden to enjoy truly high status; he was even ennobled.



Caravaggio influenced many of his fellow artists with his strong contrasts between light and shade. These 17th-century artists inspired by Caravaggio are known as Caravaggisti.

Nationalmuseum has works by Caravaggisti from Italy, France and the Dutch province of Utrecht.

Art for a wider audience

In the 17th century, ordinary people began buying art. Previously, artists’ clientele had consisted of the Church and the wealthiest individuals, but now the bourgeoisie entered the market for art – especially in Holland, which was prospering thanks to shipping, commerce and agriculture. The Church and the Court continued to be major clients as well.


Nationalmuseum Design
@ Kulturhuset Stadsteatern
Sergels torg, Stockholm 

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