10 Most Famous Dutch Artists And Their Masterpieces

Netherlands has seen some of the most renowned artists in the world none more so than in the Dutch Golden Age when their painters developed styles on which Europe depended for the next two centuries. We restrict to the period from the time when United Provinces separated from Flanders in late sixteenth century to present day. Here are 10 most renowned Dutch artists and their greatest masterpieces.

#10 Pieter Claesz

Pieter Claesz
Pieter Claesz
Lifespan:c. 1597 – January 1, 1660

Active during the Dutch Golden Age, Pieter Claesz is considered among the masters of still life painting. Among the foremost still-life painters of his time, Claesz was the first artist to portray everyday objects in his paintings in such a way that they exuded a dazzling beauty. He often used the same objects: a glass of wine, a knife, a metal plate with fish or bread, and a bowl of berries in his still lifes and used light masterfully to create a rich effect.

Masterpiece: Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball (1628)

Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball - Pieter Claesz
Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball (1628) – Pieter Claesz

Other Famous Works:-

  • Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill
  • Still Life with Turkey Pie

#9 Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael

Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael
Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael
Lifespan:c. 1629 – March 10, 1682

A pioneer of landscape painting, Jacob van Ruisdael produced some of the most breathtaking landscape paintings ever produced. He gave landscape art a new dimension by portraying nature as a metaphor of the dark aspects of human psychology. Simple woodland scenes were his favorite subjects and he is particularly famous for his spirited portrayal of trees and cloudscapes. Ruisdael was the most important landscape painter of seventeenth century Netherlands. His art greatly influenced landscape artists for centuries and paved the way for the popular Romantic style of the eighteenth century.

Masterpiece: View of Haarlem With Bleaching Fields (1670)

View of Haarlem With Bleaching Fields - Jacob van Ruisdael
View of Haarlem With Bleaching Fields (1670) – Jacob van Ruisdael

Other Famous Works:-

  • The Jewish Cemetery
  • Bentheim Castle

#8 Jan Steen

Jan Steen
Jan Steen
Lifespan:c. 1626 – February 3, 1679

Jan Steen was one of the most prolific painters of the Dutch Golden Age creating about 800 paintings. Though he also excelled in other genres, he is most famous for genre art which depicts scenes from everyday life. Steen’s genre paintings are known for depicting humorous, warm-hearted and animated scenes. Many of his works bear references to Dutch proverbs and literature; and many have a moral for the viewer. Steen’s sense of humor has made him hugely popular in Netherlands and “a Jan Steen household” has become a Dutch proverb for a messy scene.

Masterpiece: The Dancing Couple (1663)

The Dancing Couple - Jan Steen
The Dancing Couple (1663) – Jan Steen

Other Famous Works:-

  • Double portrait of Adolf Croeser and his daughter Catharina Croeser
  • The Feast of Saint Nicholas

#7 Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Lifespan:April 24, 1904 – March 19, 1997

Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American artist who was born in Netherlands but immigrated to United States in 1926. He first supported himself by painting signs, departmental store displays etc. but later became one of the most important and prolific artists of the twentieth century. The hallmark of De Kooning’s style was his emphasis on complex figure ground ambiguity. Kooning’s artwork was increasingly identified with the Abstract Expressionism art movement which initiated in the 1940s and he became one of the most famous artists of the movement.

Masterpiece: Woman I (1952)

Woman I - Willem de Kooning
Woman I (1952) – Willem de Kooning

Other Famous Works:-

  • Excavation
  • Pink Angels

#6 Frans Hals

Frans Hals
Frans Hals
Lifespan:c. 1582 – August 26, 1666

Frans Hals revolutionized the field of portraiture with his radically free approach. He used loose painterly brushwork and captured light like never before. He is also responsible for the evolution of group portraiture. Along with Rembrandt, Frans Hals was the most famous artist during the Dutch Golden Age. His popularity however waned after his death. Interest in his artwork was revived in the nineteenth century and it inspired the hugely successful art movement Impressionism. Many Impressionist artists including Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh studied the works of Hals deeply and build on his unique techniques.

Masterpiece: Laughing Cavalier (1624)

Laughing Cavalier - Frans Hals
Laughing Cavalier (1624) – Frans Hals

Other Famous Works:-

  • The Banquet of the Officers of the St George Militia Company in 1627
  • Willem van Heythuysen posing with a sword

#5 Johannes Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer
Lifespan:October 1632 – December 15, 1675

Johannes Vermeer today ranks among the most admired Dutch artists but he was relatively obscure during his time. It was perhaps because he was less prolific and created only about forty five artworks during his life of which thirty six survive. But such is there quality that they are among the most revered images in the history of art. Although he also painted religious and mythological scenes, Vermeer is most famous for his paintings of scenes of daily life in interior settings. Vermeer is renowned for masterful use of light in his work and for creating realistic bright images that captivate the viewer.

Masterpiece: Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665)

Girl with a Pearl Earring - Johannes Vermeer
Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665) – Johannes Vermeer

Other Famous Works:-

  • The Milkmaid
  • View of Delft

#4 Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Lifespan:March 7, 1872 – February 1, 1944

De Stijl (The Style) was a Dutch artistic movement which laid emphasis on abstraction and reduced the elements of form and color. Piet Mondrian was one of the pioneers of this art movement. His artwork is famous for the purity of its abstractions, radical simplification of elements and for reflecting the spirituality of nature. Piet Mondrian was crucial in the development of modern art and his iconic abstract works remain influential in designs and popular culture to this day.

Masterpiece: Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1943)

Broadway Boogie-Woogie - Piet Mondrian
Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1943) – Piet Mondrian

Other Famous Works:-

  • Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue
  • The Gray Tree

#3 M. C. Escher

Dutch digital artist Escher
M.C. Escher
Lifespan:June 17, 1898 – March 27, 1972

M.C. Escher is one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. Tessellation is dividing the plane into multiple tiles with no overlaps and no gaps and M. C. Escher is regarded as the Father of Modern Tessellations. He also made 8 mezzotints which are considered to be masterpieces of the technique. Escher represents the perfect coming together of mathematics and art and is most famous for his impossible constructions: images that look convincing but defy logic. Escher’s art was way ahead of his time and some of his work anticipated deep features of modern Cosmology.

Masterpiece: Relativity (1953)

Relativity - M.C. Escher
Relativity (1953) – M.C. Escher

Other Famous Works:-

  • Waterfall
  • Metamorphosis I

#2 Rembrandt

Rembrandt van Rijn
Rembrandt van Rijn
Lifespan:July 15, 1606 – October 4, 1669

Rembrandt dominated the Dutch Golden Age which is considered as a very important period in the development of art. He is known as the master of light and shadow. His paintings are of exceptional realism always making use of his trademark of light and shadow effects. Rembrandt is most famous for his portraits and depictions of biblical scenes. In portraiture Rembrandt captured the various moods of his subjects brilliantly and as a self-portrait artist he is known for not showing any mercy to himself. Rembrandt is the most famous artist of the Dutch Golden Age and he ranks among the greatest artists ever.

Masterpiece: The Night Watch (1642)

The Nightwatch by Rembrandt
The Night Watch (1642) – Rembrandt

Other Famous Works:-

  • The Abduction of Europa
  • Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar

#1 Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Lifespan:March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890

Vincent Van Gogh was a Post-Impressionist artist whose difficult life and posthumous fame are well known around the world. During his life Van Gogh’s work was known to only a handful of people. He rose to fame in the early 20th century, a decade after his death. Now considered one of the greatest painters of all time, Van Gogh’s work is notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color. His paintings have had a deep and profound influence on twentieth century art and together with Pablo Picasso’s they are among the world’s most expensive paintings ever sold. Van Gogh is definitely the most famous Dutch artist.

Masterpiece: The Starry Night (1889)

De sterrennacht
The Starry Night (1889)

Other Famous Works:-

  • Sunflowers
  • Irises

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