By no means do I intent to give you the impression I know the Dutch history, or the Dutch painters that good. And by no means do I try to give you the impression I know arts. In fact, shamefully I have to admit that I live near Amsterdam with a great heritage of art, and I rarely visit a museum (except for Museum Night, where you can visit museums throughout the whole night until 6 AM!). But I do know, the Dutch history is full of art. And since The Netherlands is a very, very, very flat country, the sky has a prominent role in Dutch paintings, especially in the Golden Ages in the 17th century.
Jacob van Ruisdael was probably one of the biggest names. A painter who mainly painted landscapes. Apparently he was one of the first painters, to discover sky is 2/3rds of a landscape, and he was a master in painting clouds. Other great names were Albert Cuyp and Jan van Goyen, who painted realistic landscapes with dramatic skies. Even the big Rembrandt painted the Dutch sky.
As a photographer, I love the Dutch skies. The flat country side can make The Netherlands a difficult country for landscape photography, and the sky helps us out. Every morning I drive to work, every evening I go for a run, the sky is different, and almost never boring (but when it is, it is really grey and boring). Admitted, my country doesn’t know a perfectly blue sky without clouds, but there is a lot of drama in the skies. This drama, made me even love rain! Maybe the Dutch skies aren’t that special, and in other parts of the world the sky might be more dramatic. But the sky is very important in Dutch art, since the country doesn’t offer spectacular waterfalls or caves.
While there are some discussions whether the clouds painted in the Golden Age are realistic, there is no discussion whether it is beautiful or not. Here are a couple photographs as my ode to my country and the beauty of the Dutch skies!