Art Exhibition,  English

The Good, the Bad, and the 17th Century

Here we are again at the 17th century, the time of Master Rembrandt and his many self-portraits. But, frankly, when I consider wanting to go back in time, I don’t fancy returning to the 17th century. There were a tonne of wars. Famines in Russia, France, and Finland and a plague in both Seville and London. Shakespeare died, for crying out loud – I’m still mourning this loss.


Rembrandt van Rijn, The Landscape with the Three Trees, 1643.
Etching, drypoint, and engraving, 21.3 × 27.8 cm.
Collection of Marie and George Hecksher.


The Good:

  • Jamestown, Virginia was established – which later led to a massacre of 347 English settlers by the natives (essentially score one and only)
  • St Peter’s Basilica was completed
  • Torture was outlawed in England (we’re still waiting for that in other countries)
  • Cape Town was founded
  • New Amsterdam was founded and soon thereafter renamed New York – I wonder what it would be like if it were still named as such?
  • The Taj Mahal was started and completed
  • The steam engine
  • Bach and Monteverdi
  • Rubens
  • Donne and Milton
  • Galileo and Newton
  • (As discussed before) Ice cream


Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with a Velvet Beret and a Jacket with a Fur Collar, 1634.
Oil on oak, 58.4 x 47.7 cm.
Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin.


The Bad:

  • The pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower
  • Aurochs became extinct (I bet you don’t even know what they are)
  • Mount Vesuvius erupted
  • The Great Fire of London (which might be good because it got rid of that pesky plague)
  • The Ottomans
  • Louisiana was claimed by France
  • Salem witch trials
  • Calculus


So maybe a fair amount of interesting and positive things occurred, but the bad here weigh rather heavily. I’m much happier in the 21st century, with the ability to look back smugly and mock.


Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels with a Velvet Beret, c. 1654.
Oil on canvas, 74 x 61 cm.
Musée du Louvre, Paris.


Visit the de Young Museum in San Fran to see Rembrandt’s Century, through 2 June, whilst still enjoying all of the luxuries of today. Also, keep an eye out for Rembrandt by Émile Michel, out soon from Parkstone!


-Le Lorrain Andrews

Parkstone International is an international publishing house specializing in art books. Our books are published in 23 languages and distributed worldwide. In addition to printed material, Parkstone has started distributing its titles in digital format through e-book platforms all over the world as well as through applications for iOS and Android. Our titles include a large range of subjects such as: Religion in Art, Architecture, Asian Art, Fine Arts, Erotic Art, Famous Artists, Fashion, Photography, Art Movements, Art for Children.

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