ANTONY VAN DYCK 1599-1641 Flemish School
FRANS HALS 1584 (?)-1666 Dutch School
THE commencement of the seventeenth century witnessed the birth of a new nation and of a new art--the Dutch. When the emperor Charles V abdicated in 1555, he allotted Austria and Germany to Ferdinand I, Spain and the Netherlands to his son Philip II. The rule of Spain was in one way beneficial to the Netherlands, or Low Countries ( Holland and Belgium), since it opened to them the trade with the New World and the West Indies. Antwerp rose to greatness. "No city except Paris," says Mr. Motley, "surpassed it in population or in commercial splendor. The city itself was the most beautiful in Europe. Placed upon a plain along the bank of the Scheldt, shaped like a bent bow with the river for its string, it inclosed within its walls some of the most splendid edifices in Christendom. The world-renowned Church of Nôtre Dame, the stately Exchange, where five thousand merchants daily congregated--prototype of all similar establishments throughout the world--the capacious mole and port--were all establishments which it would have been difficult to rival in any other part of the globe."