Painted depictions of people engaged in everyday activities already made their appearance in 16th-century Flemish painting, such as in Pieter Balten’s Saint Martin’s Day Kermis. However, ‘genre scenes’, paintings of (seemingly) daily life, only became truly popular in the 17th century. Many works by specialists in this genre, such as Jan Steen in particular, as well as Johannes Vermeer, Gerard ter Borch II and Pieter de Hooch are found in the Rijksmuseum. Celebrated paintings include Steen’s Feast of Saint Nicholas, Vermeer’s The Kitchen Maid and his ‘Little Street’, Ter Borch’s Gallant Conversation and De Hooch’s interiors [there are at least three, which one specifically?]. Some tableaux contain salacious motifs or a moral lesson. For example, Samuel van Hoogstraten’s Anemic Lady is actually lovesick, and Pieter Pietersz’s painting of Poor Parents, Rich Children admonishes disrespectful children to honour their parents.
The Rijksmuseum has also collected many genre scenes, often with peasants and fishermen, by 19th-century painters, such as Jozef Israëls. His son Isaac Israels, and George Hendrik Breitner were chiefly interested in capturing daily life in the city.