Appreciating Art in the Netherlands During Your Vacation

Posted on: 1st July 2014

Netherland ArtThe reason Netherlands has fathered numerous amazing painters is its natural beauty. With its serene wooden valleys, piles of foliage and rolling sand hills, it is as if the country has been made for painters. The natural beauty persuades an artist to just pick up his brushes and paint away. About twenty million paintings were created in the 1600s during the Golden Age. Almost every home had its wall decorated with an amazing oil painting. Netherlands had a rich history of art, even before artists such as Vermeer and Rembrandt entered the scene.

Holland was divided into two regions in the late 1500s; the Catholic Spanish reigned over the Flemish south and the provinces of the Dutch Protestant were an independent alliance in the north. Gent, Antwerp, and Bruges in the south gave birth to most of the artists. The subject matter of those painters was mostly allegorical and biblical, as they were under the reign of the Catholic; the Flemish school was founded by Jan van Eyck, Pieter Bruegel the Elder drew scenes that were a depiction of the peasant life of Flemish, and Hieronymus Bosch made detailed allegories.

The Protestants brought a different style to the scene. Lucas van der Leyden and Jan Mostaert brought a new style to the previous paintings that were static. Shadow and light were used by Gerrit van Honthorst to show realism that was never before seen on canvas.

It was these different schools and styles that gave rise to the Golden Age. Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals adopted different styles from every technique. Frans Hals was considered the first painter of modern art. He was so adept at what he did that you could expect him to present you with a portrait painting within sixty minutes. His greatest delight lay in capturing human emotions on his canvas and this was the early stage of Impressionism.

Rembrandt van Rijn is considered the most flexible painter of the 1600s. Painting and tuition made him rich. He was born in Leiden and although his early work was extremely fancy and ornamental, his later work showed his maturity as the years passed and he dug into the abstract reality of subjects. He was faced with financial hardships in later years which made him a victim of blackmail. However, all those problems gave rise to even more splendid work from this artist, which proudly showed off his amazing skills of using shadow and light.

Different among them all was Jan Vermeer who lived from 1632 to 1672. Although he has only thirty five paintings – that are known of – to his credit, their impeccable quality made him the most valuable artist of the time. He painted pictures of the simple life of the middle-class subjects so adeptly that it showed a stunning realism.

The Dutch art was permeated by the influence of the Baroque around the mid-1600s, which gave rise to paintings of landscapes. Artists like Hobbema and Albert Cuyp drew scenes of cows grazing on fields and canals that were swept by the wind. Collectors of the 17th and 18th century strongly desired such paintings. Other artists such as Jan Steen painted satirical and lively scenes that depicted humour.

Without a doubt, Vincent van Gogh was the best Dutch artist of the 1800s. Although he had a troubled and short life, Van Gogh created a collection of masterpieces from which he sold just one. Van Gogh started to paint in 1881 and his early paintings were a depiction of the dark life led by peasants. He spend the last four years of his life in France where he created amazingly colourful paintings which caught one’s attention. He committed suicide in 1890 after undergoing a struggle with his depression. His legacy remains an attraction for art lovers all over.

With the 20th century came confusion in the scene of art. Because of so many styles that were present, the artists did not know which one to follow so they came up with their own styles and reinvented art. Piet Mondriaan made paintings of landscapes and started experimenting with expressionism in 1909 and then cubism later on. Eventually, he created a style of his own, which is known as neo-plasticism. With red, blue, and yellow painted across a background of gray, black, and white, he was able to create non-realistic images that captured your attention. He published a magazine on art known as De Stijl in 1917, in collaboration with Theo van Doesberg. It was started as movement that was aimed at bringing harmony between arts through refined abstraction. Its effects were felt all around the world although the movement lasted for just fifteen years.

CoBrA consisted of painters from the cities of Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam. It was an experimental movement – started after the Second World War – whose founders were Karel Appel and Constant Nieuwenhuis. Their art had childlike qualities due to the abstract shapes and bright colors that they used. The artists that were involved still have an influence on the countries they emerged from.

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