In a world where anyone can see a vibrant, hi-res reproduction of a painting with just the click of a mouse, it’s easy to forget the irreplaceable thrill of standing before the real thing. That is why major exhibitions such as Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum– surely one of the most important and beautiful exhibitions ever to visit our shores – are unmissable.

Part of the Sydney International Art Series, and showing exclusively at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the exhibition features over 70 paintings and etchings from the Rijksmuseum’s world-famous collection of 17th-century Dutch art. Included are masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch, Frans Hals, Judith Leyster, Jan Steen, Nicolaes Maes, Gerard Dou and many other renowned artists who flourished during that unprecedented period of economic, religious and cultural freedom, prosperity and creativity known as the Dutch Golden Age.

Rembrandt, Dutch Golden AgePieter de Ring, Still life with golden goblet1650–60, oil on canvas, 100 x 85 cm, Rijksmuseum

But this is no mere historical survey – it holds up a mirror to our own lives. “Dutch painters pictured a world...