Decorative paintingsand watercoulors. 18th century.

In the 18th century Dutch paintings (Fine Art), became a serious form of decoration in the Dutch interior.

Painting had become a flourishing art form and a painter with sufficient talent (some of whom had been trained as wallpaper painters), could earn a considerable salary. Wallpaper design is now considered the most original and characteristic feature of the Dutch interior of the 18th century.

On moving to a new house, many paintings were unfortunately either scrapped, shortened or radically cut down to size.

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The panorama of Dutch art life

At the beginning of the 18th century wall coverings mainly of painted landscapes were commonly found in houses of Germanic speaking countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium. In England and in France they were rare.

Throughout Holland the tradition of painted wall coverings was common place of an interior decoration and this remains a remarkable fact in the history of European interior decoration.

Painted wall coverings, mainly of landscapes were fashionable in rooms, especially in the reception hall of a house, painted above a wainscoting and often divided into framed compartments. Spaces above doors or mantelpieces were usually painted with other scenes such as flowers, a still life or a sculptured relief, a grisaille or “witjes” named after Jacob de Wit, the master of this style of painting. An allegory of putti was a typical subject of these monochrome paintings which were also painted in bright colours not only by De Wit but also by his followers. Despite the popularity of “grisaille” throughout the 18th century a variation of this style appeared in 1780 when renewed interest was shown for Antiquity. These relief images were often painted on a dark background. Jurriaan Andriessen or Johannes van Dreght of Amsterdam, Dirk van der Aa of The Hague and Abraham van Strij of Dordrecht were prominent artists who painted this fashionable style.


The origin of one’s desire to visually communicate one’s observations of the world we live in, rendering a line or a tone of our experience mixed with flights of one’s imagination on paper or canvas, has been lost with time. One’s primary urge to draw, as manifested on the walls of pre-historic caves, on Egyptian papyrus or on pottery from the Ancient world, would at the time of the early Renaissance come to be regarded as the foundation of Western European Art.

The function of drawing as a tool to train and exercise the eye and hand, to study nature and the human body, led to creating expressive and dynamic compositions, endowing this medium with an unselfconscious intimacy of appeal for all kinds of sketches and studies of every period. There is no other medium in which the eye and the hand coupled with the imagination of the artist are inextricably linked with artistic genius. These attributes to drawings and sketches on paper or canvas would eventually lead to widespread admiration and from the 16th century onwards would become collectors’ items.

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