These ten Dutch painters span 300 hundred years in history, from the early Golden Age to the end of 20th century. They’ve produced artworks recognized around the world and many of their pieces are among the most expensive ever sold.
Here they are in chronological order based on the year in which they died…
Rembrandt – [1606-1669] The most famous painter in history was born right here in South Holland, Netherlands (in Leiden). Rembrandt was a master of three different forms of art: painting, drawing and etching, but it was his painting skills that he is best known for. His focus was wide ranging, from portraits (including self-portraits) and biology to biblical scenes and landscapes. His use of light and shadow forms a continuity across most of his paintings. In 2017, the Dutch and French governments paid a combined $130 million to purchase two Rembrandt paintings (Portrait of Marten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit) from the Rothschild family trust. The two portraits (of husband and wife) will be displayed together, alternating between the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and The Louvre (Paris).
Johannes Vermeer – [1632-1675] This Dutch Golden Age painter was also from South Holland (Delft). Although he had some moderate success in his lifetime, he did not accrue wealth. In fact, when he died at age 45, he left his wife and children saddled with debt. But today the master is world-renown as the artist who created…Girl With A Pearl Earring, a painting so well known that 15 years ago, a movie was based upon it. Scarlett Johansson played Vermeer’s housekeeper who eventually became the muse for his painting. The original artwork is owned by the Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague. Other Vermeer paintings can be found hanging in the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), The Louvre (Paris), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), National Gallery (London) and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna). The Vermeer Center in Delft displays reproductions of all the artist’s works and is located in the same building that Vermeer painted in centuries ago as part of the St. Luke’s Guild.
Jan Steen – [1626-1679] This Dutch Golden Age painter is known for his colorful and insightful interpretations of life in Holland during the 17th century. Like Rembrandt and Vermeer, he painted in Baroque style. His works hang in the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), Mauritshuis (The Hague), Museum van Boijmans (Rotterdam), Scottish National Gallery (Edinburgh) and National Gallery (London) to name a few. Jan Steen was born in Leiden and died there at age 53.
Pieter de Hooch – [1629-1684] Another Dutch Golden Age painter from South Holland (Rotterdam). He was part of the Delft Guild of St Luke and painted in a similar Baroque style to his peers. He is known for his works that showcased domestic scenes. De Hooch’s paintings hang in the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), The Louvre (Paris), National Gallery (London), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and Getty Center (Los Angeles). Hooch died in Haarlem at age 55.
Aelbert Cuyp – [1620-1691] Another well-known Dutch Golden Age painter who also hailed from South Holland (Dordrecht). He is renown for his paintings of Dutch landscapes. Cuyp’s paintings can be found among the collections of the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), The Louvre (Paris) and National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.).
Vincent Van Gogh – [1853-1890] This post-impressionist painter was born in Zundert (North Brabant) and is considered one of the most influential artists in history. He was prolific in his creations, producing nearly 1,000 paintings during his short life. Unfortunately, he never saw success as an artist during his lifetime. He suffered from bouts of mental illness and frequent delusions. He cut off part of his own ear with a razor in 1886 and just a few years later, killed himself at age 37 with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Today, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam attracts over 2 million visitors a year. His paintings are among the most expensive ever sold, including a self-portrait that was purchased in 1998 for $71 million. In 2017, a film entitled ‘Loving Vincent‘ was released which has been nominated for an Academy Award.
Hendrik Willem Mesdag – [1831-1915] This 19th century artist was from the ‘Hague School’ and is known primarily for his marine and sea-oriented paintings. His most famous work is the circular ‘Panorama Mesdag’; completed in 1881, it stands 14 meters high and is 120 meters in circumference. It offers a 360-degree view of the Scheveningen beach community and the North Sea from a perspective in the dunes. In addition to the Panorama Mesdag (the only panorama from the time still in its original location), there is a separate Mesdag Museum (also in The Hague). Willem Hendrik Mesdag was born in Groningen and died in The Hague. His works can be found in the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), Musee Orsay (Paris) and the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.).
Piet Mondriaan – [1872-1944] This post-impressionist painter was instrumental in the introduction of ‘De Stijl’ movement, an abstract artistic form which was recently celebrated on its 100-year anniversary in The Hague and other cities in the Netherlands. He is considered one of the top 20th century painters in the world and his color-block style became highly recognizable. Mondriaan was born in Amersfoort and died in New York City.
Maurits Cornelis Escher – [1898-1972] A graphic artist known for his paintings, lithographs and woodcuts that incorporated unique interpretations of reflection, perspective and symmetry in his exploration of infinity. The M.C. Escher Museum is located in the Palace Lange Voorhout and soon will be expanded to include the adjacent building which formerly housed the United States Embassy. M.C. Escher was born in Leeuwarden and died in Laren.
Willem de Kooning – [1904-1997] This abstract expressionist painter was born and raised in Rotterdam. When he was 22, he moved to the United States and eventually became an American citizen (1962). Like Mondriaan, he is considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. In 2006 his painting ‘Woman III‘ sold for $137 million. Nine years later another of his works, ‘Interchange‘ sold for $300 million. In 1998, the college he had attended in Rotterdam back in the 1920s was renamed the Willem de Kooning Academy.