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A Woman’s Duty — Challenging the Idealization of the Dutch Home

MA students
12 December 2022 - 6 March 2023
Online exhibition

What duties should a woman perform in her life? Do they have the opportunity to choose the life they want to? What truths lie beneath idealised scenes of family life?

Curated by MA students from the University of Leeds, this exhibition explores and challenges themes of domesticity, women and family by shining new perspectives on the Rijksmuseum collection.

The Dutch Golden Age was a period of class mobility and wealth accumulation which was reflected in art during this time. Artists' depiction of ordinary life led to a flourishing period of artistic creation. Symbolic objects were commonly placed that represented a moral standard of family life.

However, it is not until these collections have been challenged through a contemporary female perspective that themes of constraint, oppression and loneliness are uncovered within many paintings. Art that was created to promote an ideal of family life have instead stimulated a dialogue of gender roles and equality in the home today.

This exhibition invites you to join the conversation of the curatorial team of MA students, to respond to and challenge the standards placed on women in family life through history and today.

Visit the exhibition

A Woman’s Duty — Challenging the Idealization of the Dutch Home is part of a wider series of exhibitions and projects undertaken by MA students from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies as part of an Interpretations course module.

Visit the exhibition.


Woman Playing the Virginal, Jan Miense Molenaer, c. 1637 (detail). Oil on panel, h 38.6cm × w 29.6cm Catalogue entry.  Rijksmuseum Collection.