The Whitewashed Image: Iconoclasm and Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscapes


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art History


In 1566, a wave of iconoclasm swept through the Netherlands. Churches were purged of images, altars stripped, and walls whitewashed. Although the iconoclasms subsided fairly quickly, the 1566 breaking of images marked the beginning of the rise of Calvinism as the official religion of the northern Netherlands. Because the Calvinist Reformed Church did not permit the use of religious images, the northern Netherlands saw a drastic curtailment of church patronage. Deprived of ecclesiastical commissions, artists began to produce for the open market. The most popular type of painting sold on this open market was the landscape. This project asks how the memory of iconoclasm and the persistence of iconophobia shaped the making of Dutch landscapes in the century or so after 1566.