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It has been estimated that between five and ten million works of art had been produced during the century of the Golden Age of Dutch art.
One explanation for the Dutch desire for paintings is related to the population's quintessential affection for their land and home.
"A considerable proportion of inhabitants of Dutch towns had more than sufficient income to provide for their fundamental needs.
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One of the consequences of the Republic's independence was the change in the balance of power, power which had for the first time in modern history, passed into the hands of bourgeois.
This change was to have enormous repercussions on the art market.
Though art had not degenerated into an overlooked object of utility, the differentiation between paintings and other objects was somehow weakened." It may not be an exaggeration to say that in seventeenth-century Netherlands "paintings were treated in a similar way to furniture or plate – they embellished the home, and could be expected to keep their value or perhaps even increase it." Certainly, only a handful of artists attained an aura comparable to that which surrounds the figure of the artist today.
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In the Netherlands rapidly expanding cities and towns were the main location for artists, patrons, and the market, while much of the subject matter of Dutch art reflects the experiences and aspirations of middle-class urban elites.
It has become commonplace to use urban origins as one of the key criteria in classifying Dutch art.