Jan Rijcksen and His Wife, Griet Jans, known as "The Shipbuilder and His Wife," Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669) 1633, Oil on canvas, British Royal Collection. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The Netherlands in the seventeenth century—its “Golden Age”—was a remarkable place. When the region declared independence from Spain, in the late sixteenth century, it became an unusual political entity, one led not by a hereditary aristocrat but by the heads of the seven provinces of the new Dutch Republic, united, during the seventeenth century, under a series of stadholders—the Princes of Orange, descendants of...

 
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