Winter Landscape with Skaters, Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot, Oil on canvas, 75 x 111 cm. 1629. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Historical and political reasons, in addition to issues of taste and a lack of interest in this school, explain the fact that the inventories of the collections of the last Habsburg monarchs, Philip IV and Charles II, list few Dutch paintings. Dutch painters worked in a Protestant context and their desire to liberate themselves from southern, Catholic infl uence led them to associate themselves with the northern pictorial tradition preferred by the Calvinist branch of the reformist church that prevailed in Holland. In addition, the Dutch had fought to win their freedom from the Spanish throne and were enemies of the Church of Rome.

As a result, and despite the outstanding and undeniable artistic merit of Dutch paintings, Philip IV and Charles II – like other 17thcentury Italian and French collectors – did not appreciate works associated with this tradition, which moved away from the classicising idealism derived from Renaissance humanism in favour of a descriptive and domestic type of painting based on the object and the depiction of the surroundings and everyday activities.

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