The title “genre painting” comes from the french word “genre” meaning “type” or “kind,” thus it is used for the type of art which depicts the
everyday activities of common Dutch people. Though these paintings may represent what looks like everyday life, often there is a deeper meaning hidden in the image, generally one relating to the moral values of the era. “Frequently the painter showed the viewer a bad example or depicted the sinful world.” (Kiers, Judikje and Fieke Tissink, The Golden Age of Dutch Art, 169) Generally people want to think of this art as simply being pleasant images of domestic life, without noticing this other social commentary that is displayed through iconography. This social content is generally what attracts the viewer to these works along with the artists mastery of their craft.
Although these works had many promising aspects, art theorists of the era found the most value in history painting and did not waste their time on genre painting yet, due to the large number of these paintings that were produced throughout the seventeenth century it is obvious that they were in demand.