Deconstructing Dutch Artworks: 11 Famous Dutch Paintings You Should know!

Dutch Art cover

Our art world would be incomplete without Dutch paintings! 

Over the years, Dutch artists created a plethora of paintings depicting wide range of scenes, events, and human figures. 

These artists ended up creating some of the most influential artwork to ever exist!

Why else would we art admirers discuss it even after centuries of its creation? 

Dutch art is also responsible for the beginning of several infamous art movements which changed the art world forever. 

Early Netherlandish, Amsterdam Impressionism, Baroque era, Dutch Golden Age, and Neoplasticism are some of them! 

With a range of art techniques seen in these Dutch paintings, I am sure they are bound to pull on your curiosity strands. 

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Worry not, because I am here with my research on Dutch art, covering across five centuries and their respective art movements. 

Let us get into the world of Dutch paintings that showcase realistic grandeur, drama, richness in color and history! 

1. The Ghent Altarpiece (1432)

The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck
TechniquesLight manipulation, transparent glazing
StyleReligious painting 
MaterialsPolyptych, Oil on Wood 

The first one from our list of Dutch paintings is a religious artwork, The Ghent Altarpiece by the legend Jan van Eyck! 

This famous Dutch artwork is the artist’s most remarkable work, and as you can see, it has been painted into a polyptych! 

What is a polyptych you may wonder?

It is a multi-panelled piece, usually created to position behind the altar, which was of course a trend in the middle age period. 

The most fascinating feature of a polyptych is that it can be viewed as both: an open-panel and a close-panel. 

It can be considered one of the earliest oil painting pieces made with Jan van Eyck’s brilliance! 

2. The Garden of Earthly Delights (1510)

 The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
Image: Wikimedia
StyleReligious Narrative Painting 
MaterialsTriptych, oil on oak 

The Garden of Earthly Delights is yet again one of the most famous Dutch paintings by Hieronymus Bosch

Bosch’s paintings are known for their triptychs! 

This Dutch artwork is also a triptych that is filled with so many intricate details if you watch closely. 

Ah, I think one could keep watching this painting for hours to properly deconstruct it!

The left panel of the painting depicts Eden, whereas the right panel shows The Last Judgment. 

It is the middle section that is filled with countless little details which include figures and objects.

Apparently, this middle piece was meant to depict the destruction of humanity, at the tip of the balance, about to fall anytime! 

Are you even surprised this particular Dutch art took 20 years to complete? 

3. Bathsheba At Her Bath (1654)

Bathsheba At Her Bath by Rembrandt van Rijn.
Image: Wikimedia
Materials UsedOil on canvas

From our list of Dutch paintings, the next one is Bathsheba At Her Bath, often called Bathsheba With King David’s Letter.  

This famous Dutch art was created by none other than Rembrandt van Rijn!

The painting portrays Bathsheba, naked, at her bath, while holding King David’s letter, ordering her to report to his palace, even though he knew she was married to one his generals. 

Bathsheba eventually gets pregnant and the King gets rid of her husband in war, but alas, the child was stillborn.

The story ends on a rather tragic note, where the King spends his time in rags trying to compensate for his sins. 

Why is this story important?

Because Rembrandt brings a nude painting in the Golden Age that has a biblical connotation. It was definitely one of a kind! 

4. Self Portrait by Judith Leyster (1630)

Judith Leyster's self-portrait
Image: Wikimedia
Style Portrait painting
Materials UsedOil on Canvas

Judith Leyster is one of the most famous portrait painters who has created commendable Dutch paintings throughout her active years! 

This particular self-portrait by the artist shows the excellence of her talent!

The excellence in being able to show herself and her art through the painting at the same time!  

She sits in front of her painting with utmost poise and confidence, with a jovial smile on her face depicting an easygoing personality. 

If you notice, even the painting is having a similar smile again directed at the viewer, almost like both her artwork and herself are interacting with the viewer!  

5. The Milkmaid (1658)

The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer
Image: Wikimedia
TechniquePontile, Illusionism, Texturing 
Materials UsedOil on canvas 

The Milkmaid is one of the most famous Dutch paintings made by the infamous Johannes Vermeer. 

Vermeer is known for his female subjects in his paintings, and this Dutch art is an ideal example of realistic art. 

With this Dutch genre art, Vermeer has shown that maids can also be portrayed with dignity and respect rather than being depicted in a sexual context! 

Look at the painting— there is a sense of serenity you can feel. 

Like you are just watching the milkmaid doing her daily chores, and the colors definitely add vibrancy. 

Vermeer, known for his impeccable work, produced this art which became the best of his work.

6. The Return of the Flock (1887)

The Return of the Flock by Anton Mauve
Image: Wiki Art
TechniqueConvergence, Mood conveyance
StyleRealism, Landscape painting
Materials UsedOil on Canvas

In the list of the best Dutch paintings, you will definitely find The Return of the Flock by Anton Mauve! 

His inspiration and muse for this particular Dutch artwork are sheep!

This Dutch landscape painting gives serenity, a sense of winding down, like it was the end of the day, as the sheep depart from the fields. 

The somber colors used by Mauve add to the mellow effect of the painting.

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Doing so, the artist is almost forcing us to interact and feel with the painting!

Did you know that Mauve has often connected and compared the sheep with Beethoven?

This is because the sound of pattering feet of the sheep felt very much linked to the sounds of Beathoven!

7. The Singelbrug Near the Paleisstraat in Amsterdam (1897)

The Singelbrug Near the Paleisstraat in Amsterdam by George Hendrik Breitner
Image: Wikimedia
StyleRealism, Urban genre painting 
Materials usedOil on canvas

When looking at Dutch paintings, how can we miss out The Singelbrug Near the Paleisstraat in Amsterdam

What would you do if you were the spectator to this art? 

A bustling street is filled with common people, engrossed with their own everyday life. 

This Dutch art by George Hendrik Breitner portrays the urban atmosphere where everyone is caught up in their own little worlds. 

The snowy day is depicted with the right colors that represent the season—deep yet mellow!

Did you know that his artworks were often called incomplete?

Nevertheless, Breitner carried this statement with pride, like he made it his specialty! 

Suggested Read: Famous Greek Paintings

8. The Starry Night (1889)

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
Image: Wikimedia
TechniqueImpasto, Concentrics
Style Abstract landscape painting
Materials usedOil on canvas 

Do I need to give an introduction for The Starry Night?

This dreamy artwork by Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous Dutch paintings to ever exist! 

Did you know that this Dutch art is just one of the 2000 paintings that Van Gogh has created?

Even then, the impact The Starry Night made was like no other. 

We cannot categorize the artists to just one single art movement, because he was associated with several throughout his artistic career. 

The artist was very clear while using colors in order to present emotions.

This was because he had a belief that there was a strong link between emotion and art. 

The colors, the brush strokes, and the concentric patterns Van Gogh used—everything turned out to catch a massive chunk of attention. 

9. Broadway Boogie Woogie (1943)

Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian
TechniqueEquivalence, Pontile, Rhythm
StyleNon-representational painting
Materials usedTriptych, Oil on oak

There is a specific kind of pattern in this art that made it Dutch’s most renowned artwork! 

But why did  Piet Mondrian make this art the way it is? 

It’s hard to decipher the meaning behind it but it was said that the artist’s intention was to demonstrate how to balance different elements together. 

Nobody works with the color gray like Mondrian does, and that can be seen even in this painting! 

He has brilliantly incorporated shapes and colors to represent his idea at its best.

This was his way of depicting how nature can also be found in representations, because it also depends on how we perceive it! 

10. Woman I (1952)

Woman I by Willem de Kooning
Technique Subconscious exploration, spontaneity 
StyleAction painting 
Materials usedOil and metallic paint on canvas

The artist of this famous Dutch painting was intrigued by the spontaneous capabilities of an artist that were meant to flow out of them.

Woman I by Willem de Kooning could be considered  an abstract painting.

This is because it embraced the artist’s imagination and created a masterpiece! 

Something so fascinating about this Dutch art is that Woman I was initially a worn out canvas, on which the artist worked and did his magic. 

His spontaneous additions of colors, shapes, and brush strokes reflects the artist’s psyche, and the art flowed out of him! 

Because of this, replicating this piece became impossible! 

Hang on, do you wish to have a famous painting replica in your humble abode? 

We at PortraitFlip are ready and waiting to provide you with that service! 

11. People, Birds and Sun (1954)

People, Birds and Sun by Karel Appel
Image: Wiki Art
Year 1954
StyleExpressive, spontaneous painting 
Materials UsedOil paint on canvas

The last one on our list of famous Dutch paintings is the People, Birds and Sun by Karel Appel. 

This painting marks the dispersal of the artist community called CoBra because it was made right after the dissolution. 

From my research I’ve gathered that Appel was keen on working with the paint on canvas, without a prior plan of any sort. 

It is only later that he started adding other elements like shapes and dimensions to the painting. 

This was because this Dutch artist believed art to be perceived by the way children perceive it, without a structure or prior training! 

Author’s Note

Hello Reader,

I hope this blog reaches the right minds, and I hope that you enjoy reading it. 

Thank you for your interest in this blog and PortraitFlip. 

We would love to hear from you, so feel free to reach out in the comment section below.

Until next time

Cheers xx 

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Dutch paintings unique?

With the introduction of art movements like the Baroque by Dutch artists, Dutch paintings started to convey a more realistic style of depiction, which makes it unique and special. 

Who are some of the most famous Dutch painters?

Some of the most famous Dutch artists are Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt Van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, and Hieronymus Bosch!

Which is known to be the most famous Dutch painting?

The Girl with a Pearl Earring is often recognized as the most famous Dutch art. This is also because it was painted in the Dutch Golden Age era.

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