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The Dutch Republic in the 17th century was home to one of the greatest flowerings of painting in the history of Western art. Freed from the constraints of royal and church patronage, artists created a rich outpouring of works that circulated through an open market to patrons and customers at every level of Dutch society. The closely observed details of daily life captured in portraits, genre scenes and landscapes offer a wealth of information about the possessions, activities and circumstances that distinguished members of the social classes, from the nobility to the urban poor. The dazzling array of paintings gathered here--by artists such as Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch and Gerard ter Borch, as well as Rembrandt and Vermeer--illuminated by essays from leading scholars, invites us to explore a vibrant early modern society and its reflection in a golden age of brilliant painting.