The most famous Dutch artists: 7 famous masters from Van Eyck to Van Gogh
The most famous Dutch artists lived in different historical periods. Jan van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel the Elder worked during the Renaissance, when both the Northern and Southern Netherlands were part of the Duchy of Burgundy. Pieter Claesz, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Jan Vermeer are considered to be among the best masters of the Golden Age of Dutch painting. And Vincent van Gogh is recognized by many art historians as the brightest post-impressionist of the late 19th century.
The iconic painters of Holland have different fates, but they are united by worldwide fame far beyond the borders of their small historical homeland.
Jan van Eyck (1385 or 1390-1441)
Jan van Eyck is the most eminent representative of the early Netherlandish painting of the Northern Renaissance. Born in the city of Maaseik in what is now Belgium.
In 1425 he entered the service of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, as a valet. At the same time, he performed the duties of a court painter and even carried out diplomatic missions. The ruler favorably treated the subordinate and paid him a generous salary.
Eyck was one of the first in Northern Europe to appreciate the benefits of oil paints and contributed to the growth of their popularity among colleagues. The brush of the master belongs to the first pair portrait of a married couple in European fine art.
Many of Eyck’s paintings are painted in a realistic manner. In addition to the portrait genre, he is widely known for works on religious themes. In recent years he lived and worked in Bruges. Died 1441.
The most famous works:
- “Ghent Altarpiece” (1432);
- “Portrait of a man in a turban” (1433);
- “Portrait of the Arnolfini couple” (1434);
- “Madonna of Chancellor Rolin” (1436);
- “Portrait of a man with a carnation” (1436).
Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450-1516)
Hieronymus Bosch (Jheronimus Bosch) is the most mysterious master in our article. His works shocked contemporaries and often became the target of church attacks. Bosch’s work had a huge impact on Salvador Dali. The extravagant Spaniard called Bosch “the father of surrealism” and admired the creations of the Dutchman.
Bosch (real name – Aken) was born in the family of an artist and from an early age he studied hereditary craft. He spent his whole life in his native town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, married a woman from a wealthy merchant family and did not have children.
He wrote a lot on religious topics, but Bosch’s paintings differed significantly from the works of his contemporaries. They contain pronounced symbolism, bold fantasies and a deep subconscious beginning. Only 25 paintings and a few drawings have survived to this day.
Bosch did not have the habit of signing his works, and after his death in 1516, the widow distributed all the property to the heirs.
Notable works by Bosch:
- “The Seven Deadly Sins” (1480);
- “Hay Cart” (1502);
- “Saint Jerome at Prayer” (1505);
- The Garden of Earthly Delights (1510);
- “The Adoration of the Magi” (1510).
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Pieter Bruegel de Oude) is known to the world not only as the author of magnificent paintings on religious and rural themes. He owns another honorary title – the ancestor of a dynasty of famous Dutch artists. A noticeable mark in art was also left by two sons, two grandsons and a great-grandson of the master.
The fate of Pieter Brueghel the Elder was far from simple, and his life was short. Until the age of 40, his career was successfully going uphill. He studied with a good teacher – Peter Cook Alst (Pieter Coecke van Aelst) in Antwerp and married his daughter, then traveled extensively in Europe.
Returning home, he led the measured life of a successful painter. But everything changed in 1526, when the army of the Duke of Alba launched a cruel religious terror in the Southern Netherlands. In those years, thousands of fellow countrymen of the master died innocently, and he himself died in an atmosphere of fear at the age of only 44 years.
Famous works of Brueghel:
- “Children’s Games” (1560);
- The Triumph of Death (1562);
- “Tower of Babel” (1563);
- “Forty on the gallows” (1568);
- “The Parable of the Blind” (1568).
Pieter Claesz (1597-1660)
Pieter Claesz is a prominent representative of the Dutch still life of the 17th century, the father of the landscape painter Nicolas Pieterszoon Berchem the Elder. He is considered the founder of the Haarlem school of still life “Laid Tables” (“Banquets” and “Breakfasts”).
Biographical information about Klas is very scarce. Born in the suburbs of Antwerp, but already in 1620 he moved to Haarlem, where he soon achieved recognition. He created his own style of painting with a modest strict composition and integrity of the lighting solution. In addition to his son, he taught a number of other students who later became recognized still life painters – Floris Dyck (Floris van Dijck), Christian Berentz (Christian Berentz), Evert Aelst (Evert van Aelst).
Famous paintings by Claes:
- Vanitas (1625);
- “Still life with a crab” (1643);
- “Still Life with Fruit” (1644);
- “Breakfast” (1646).
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)
Rembrandt is the brightest representative of the Golden Age of Netherlandish painting. His work is distinguished by a huge variety of genres, a masterful play of chiaroscuro and extraordinary emotional depth.
The fate of the great master was very extraordinary. He was born into a wealthy family, began to study drawing early, married out of great love to a woman from a wealthy family.
Success quickly came to Rembrandt, at an early stage of his life he led a luxurious life and had many orders. But soon fate struck him a hard blow. His wife died of consumption, and a nanny had to be hired to raise his son. In his paintings, the maestro continued to use bold innovative ideas, and this scared away many customers.
Gradually things went from bad to worse. The master fought off creditors for a long time, but was forced to declare himself bankrupt. The works of the later period became the crowning achievement of Rembrandt, but were coldly received by the public. The master died a year after the tragic death of his son in poverty.
Famous paintings by Rembrandt:
- “Christ during a storm at sea” (1633);
- “The Feast of Belthazar” (1635);
- “Self-portrait with Saskia on her knees” (1635);
- “Night Watch” (1642); “Danae” (1636-1647);
- “Matthew and the Angel” (1661);
- “The Return of the Prodigal Son” (1663).
Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)
Jan Vermeer was a 17th century Dutch portrait and cityscape painter. He painted pictures on uncomplicated everyday subjects, but skillfully filled them with love and comfort, soft light and lyrical mood.
Born into a family of merchants, Vermeer learned to draw early, married at the age of 21 and was registered as a master of painting in the Guild of Artists of St. Luke. His wife bore him 15 children, 4 of whom died in infancy. Vermeer was not particularly prolific in his work.
He painted 1-2 pictures a year, but the customers paid good money for the work. Cloudless life came to an end with the beginning of the war between Holland and France. Interest in art fell sharply, there was a catastrophic lack of money. Due to strong experiences, Vermeer died of a heart attack at the age of only 43 years.
Notable works by Vermeer:
- “Girl reading a letter at an open window” (1659);
- “The Milkmaid” (1660);
- “Little Street” (1661);
- “Music Lesson” (1665);
- “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (c. 1665-1667).
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
Vincent van Gogh is a self-taught genius, the brightest representative of post-impressionism. His work had a huge impact on the painting of the entire XX century, and works today are constantly updating price records at auctions.
Born into the family of a Protestant pastor in a village in the south of the Netherlands near the Belgian border. Before his passion for painting, he managed to work in his uncle’s trading company and spent six months engaged in missionary work, trying to find peace of mind.
At the age of 27, Vincent decides to change his life dramatically and become a professional artist, trying to start a family, but unsuccessfully. After another 5 years, he leaves for Paris, begins to study painting with enthusiasm and gets acquainted with outstanding colleagues of that time.
Van Gogh was distinguished by extraordinary creative fertility, but during his lifetime he was able to sell only one painting. The unrecognized genius had a hard time experiencing life and domestic failures, he developed a serious mental illness, he was even placed in a clinic for a while. Broken by adversity, Vincent shot himself in the heart with a revolver and died, bleeding, in the arms of his brother.
Van Gogh’s most famous paintings:
- “Sunflowers” (1888);
- “Night terrace of a Parisian cafe” (1889);
- “Starry Night” (1889);
- “Irises” (1889);
- “Self-portrait with a smoking pipe and a bandaged ear” (1889);
- “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” (1890);
- “Wheatfield with Crows” (1890).
The great Dutch masters will forever remain in world art. Their paintings will be admired by our descendants in many years.