Once the preserve of royalty and the nobility, the collecting and commissioning of paintings become progressively widespread over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, both north and south of the Alps. A strong market developed for small-scale, highly finished works like those displayed in this room. Often painted on hard supports such as copper or fruitwood panels, their exquisite details and jewel-like finish could be contemplated at close quarters in domestic settings, in private studies or picture galleries. The sheer finesse of their craftsmanship was an end in itself.
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