Travel & Places Europe (Continental)

Dutch Artists Not to Miss in the Netherlands

For some visitors, the Netherlands is synonymous with art history, from the Old Masters of the 17th century to the expressionism and Abstract Expressionism of the 20th century. Here are just a few Dutch artists to look out for in Amsterdam and nearby.
  • The expressionist painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) remains one of the most popularly cherished artists of our time - despite the fact that he didn't sell one artwork his lifetime, and only rose to posthumous fame more than a century after his death. His chunky "brushwork", the paint ladled on with a palette knife, forms the familiar textures of well-known works like "The Starry Night", "The Bedroom" and "Sunflowers".

    Where to Find Him: The top destination for Van Gogh lovers is none other than the eponymous Van Gogh Museum on Museumplein in Amsterdam; on the same square, the Rijksmuseum also has several works, as do the Centraal Museum in Utrecht and the Groningen Museum in other parts on the country.

  • Frans Hals (1580-1666), a Dutch Baroque painter, shared with his Baroque contemporaries a focus on the everyday.

    Where to Find Him: There's no better place than the Frans Hals Museum, a dedicated museum in the painter's name in the provincial capital of Haarlem, just a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam. Both the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague, one of Holland's most eminent fine arts museums, have his works.
  • Trained as a realist, Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) nonetheless became one of the most seminal First Generation Abstract Expressionists. His penchant for realism persisted in his incorporation of the human body into his abstract visions, a practice that his contemporaries had all ditched.

    Where to Find Him: While the artist rose to prominence and died in New York City, one of the works from his famous Woman series is on view at the Stedelijk Museum on Museumplein, Amsterdam.
  • One of the lesser-known Dutch Baroque artists is Jan Lievens (1607-1674) who, like Rembrandt, was born in Leiden and may even have shared a studio with the far more famous Master; his vivid portraits, however, deserve the same acclaim as that of his contemporaries.

    Where to Find Him: Both the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis have troves of Lievens's works.

  • Until she surrendered her palette and brushes to family life, Judith Leyster (1609-166) turned out scenes of everyday life and portraits that established her as one of the most important female artists of the Dutch Baroque period. Her work has sometimes been erroneously attributed to Frans and Dirck Hals.

    Where to Find Her: The Rijksmuseum, Mauritshuis and Frans Hals Museum all possess Leyster's work.
  • Several of the most exceptional Dutch Baroque artists were also women, despite exclusion from their contemporary art world; for this reason and others, they are relatively under-represented in fine arts museums.
    - Maria van Oosterwyck (1630-1693) was internationally prized in her time, when heads of state and other royalty clambered for her exquisitely detailed still lives of flowers. Found in the Mauritshuis.
    - Geertruydt Roghman (1625-1657), an etcher who, in typical Baroque spirit, focused on scenes of daily life, but with an emphasis on her own sex. Found in the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam.
    - With a botanist as a father, Rachel Ruysch endows her still lifes of flowers with an impeccable, informed realism; her acclaimed work earned her an appointment as court painter in Düsseldorf. Found in the Rijksmuseum; Mauritshuis.
  • Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), the Leiden-born painter who achieved immortal fame despite a troubled personal history, remains a household name even into the 21st century. He built his reputation in Amsterdam where, like Jan Lievens, he was a pupil of Pieter Lastman, and became a master of sensitively crafted portraiture.

    Where to Find Him: Rembrandt's works are on exhibit in top museums all over the world, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is no exception. Art lovers in search of a more intimate look at the Dutch Master's life should visit the Rembrandt House Museum (Museum Het Rembrandthuis), his one-time home and studio in the former Jewish quarter (Jodenbuurt) of Amsterdam; in addition, the Rembrandt House contains an almost complete collection of the prolific artist's 290 prints.
  • Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) needs little introduction; the Delft-born artist is world-renowned for his indoor scenes of domestic life in the 17th-century. While little is known of his life, his works have left an indelible impression on both fine art and popular culture.

    Where to Find Him: To view "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and other immortal works in person, head to the Mauritshuis. A few others are kept at the Rijksmuseum in. But to soak up the atmosphere of Vermeer's scenes, visitors should head to the South Hollandish city of Delft, the center of traditional "Delft blue" ceramics, to see where the artist lived, worked, and was buried (in the Oude Kerk, or Old Church, of Delft).

Other Dutch Baroque artists, active between 1600 and 1750, are listed in the linked directory compiled by's Guide to Art History. (She also demystifies Dutch surnames - no mean feat - for the benefit of readers.) For an instructive overview of the entire Northern Renaissance, see this intro to the Renaissance in Northern Europe.

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