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Genre Paintings

A genre scene depicts everyday life. Through the 19th century, genre scenes held the third level of prestige for painters, after history scenes and portraits. Genre scenes have a strong domestic appeal and have persisted throughout art history.

Johannes Vermeer painted some of the most famous genre scenes. His "Woman Holding a Balance," c. 1664, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. is a perfect example. Art lovers celebrate Vermeer for his masterful application of lighting and perspective.

Genre painting went away as painters focused on abstraction in the 1900s, but contemporary artists are newly adopting genre painting. For example, American artist Jonathan Gardner paints neo-cubist genre scenes of women at leisure, often smoking cigarettes. Glenn Ness paints genre scenes that recall David Hockney and Edward Hopper, with a minimalist edge. French artist Marc Desgrandchamps paints beach scenes and urban scenes in which the figures fade in and out of existence.


Quick Facts

  • Museums deaccess major works of art, and museum ethics dictate the museums utilize funds earned from the sale to benefit their collecting
  • The LA Country Museum of Art deaccessioned Pieter de Hooch, "A Woman Handing a Coin to a Serving Woman with a Child," circa 1668-72, selling the painting through Sotheby’s New York in 2009. Pieter de Hooch was a contemporary of Vermeer, and the painting sold for $1.65 million
  • Pieter Breughel the Younger, a Dutch painter, was also a master of the genre scene. The Metropolitan Museum of Art deaccessioned The Whitsun Bride, undated, selling it through Christie’s New York in 2012, for $686,500

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Sellers Who Sell Genre Paintings


Broward Auction Gallery

Broward Auction Gallery

Dobiaschofsky Auktionen AG

Dobiaschofsky Auktionen AG

Auktionshaus Wendl

Auktionshaus Wendl

Bonhams

Bonhams