8 Dutch Painters You Should Know

Willem Claesz. Heda, "Still Life." Sold for €109,000 via Christie’s (June 2011).

The history of Dutch painting is a rich one, yielding some of history’s most significant painters including Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Pieter Bruegel, Hieronymus Bosch, and Vincent van Gogh. But the trajectory of Dutch painting ebbs and flows along with politics, wars and artistic developments in neighboring countries, with enormous leaps in the Golden Age, followed by a dearth in the 17th and 18th centuries. To understand the motivations and influences of its protagonists, Dutch painting should be viewed in the wider context of Europe, from the Early Netherlandish painting school to the Modernist movement, De Stijl (“The Style”).

In this article, our editors venture beyond Holland’s best-loved and widely celebrated artists to uncover centuries of Dutch painters you may not know – and the prices their works fetch in the market today.

Lucas van Leyden, 1494–1533

As the son of an artist (Hugo Jacobsz van Leyden), Lucas van Leyden was an apprentice in his father’s workshop. He was precocious, and even as a child is said to have worked by candlelight late into the night. van Leyden is known for his paintings and prints, but it was the latter that gained him respect from the likes of Albrecht Dürer. van Leyden is thought to have learned the technique of etching from Dürer, but given that he experimented with a variety of etching techniques during the course of his career, some critics believe that van Leyden invented copper etching himself.

Image 1: Lucas van Leyden (Leyden 1494-1533), The Dismissal
Dorotheum, Vienna, Austria (17 October, 2007)
€400 – €500
Realized Price: €938

Image 2: Lucas van Leyden
Bonhams, San Francisco, California, USA  (23 May, 2007)
Estimate: $3,000 – $5,000
Realized Price: $1,920

Image 3: Lucas van Leyden (Leyden 1494-1533), Hope
Swann Auction Galleries, New York, NY, USA (6 November, 2012)
Estimate: $1,200 – $1,800
Realized Price: $2,280

Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1558–1629

One of the foremost followers of Caravaggio in Holland (also known as “Utrecht Caravaggisti”), Hendrick ter Brugghen visited Italy to study Caravaggio’s work while the legendary Italian painter was alive. ter Brugghen brought chiaroscuro – a technique characterized by intensely contrasted light and shadow to create a dramatic effect – back to his native Netherlands with him, and is thought to have subsequently influenced painters such as Johannes Vermeer. As subjects for his work, ter Brugghen favoured genre scenes of allegory and myth.

Image 4: Hendrick Ter Brugghen and Studio, The Hague – A Man Playing a Lute
Christie’s, New York, NY, USA (31 October, 2017)
Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000
Realized Price: $225,000

Image 5: Studio of Hendrick Ter Brugghen, A Man Playing a Lute and a Man Playing a Viola da Braccio
Stair Galleries, Hudson, NY, USA (25 June, 2016)
Estimate: $8,000 – $12,000
Realized Price: $4,000

Image 6: Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Deventer, Utrecht Boy in Profile, Drinking from a Tankard
Sotheby’s, New York, NY, USA (4 June, 2009)
Estimate: $250,000 – $350,000
Realized Price: $278,500

Image 7: Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Deventer, Utrecht Bagpipe Player
Sotheby’s, New York, NY, USA (29 January, 2009)
Estimate: $4,000,000 – $6,000,000
Realized Price: $10,162,500

Willem Claesz. Heda, 1594–1680

The Dutch Golden Age painter Willem Claesz. Heda is best known for his still lifes, and in particular his late breakfast scenes. Little is known about Heda’s life, or his early work, aside from a number of figural studies.

In his still lifes, Heda was a proponent of the Haarlem monochromatic style. Although restrained in color and with only a few objects pictured in the scene, the featured objects would have been within the grasp of the wealthiest of Dutchmen at the time, revealing suggestions about his social position and audience.

Piet van Winden, Director of Adam’s Auctioneers in Amsterdam, says of Heda’s work, “When I think of [Dutch] painters from the Golden Age deserving more attention from the public, Willem Claesz. Heda comes to mind. At first sight, his still lifes seem easy-pleasers: interesting, bright, detailed and skillfully executed mises en place; the light and interaction of objects and their shadows is different for each object, and the abundance of possible interpretations offer a never-ending spectacle. But after a close look at ‘Still life with oysters’ or ‘Breakfast with crab,’ for instance, one feels a sudden connection with the painting… Like any other true masterpiece, it offers a time machine at the one hand, and eternal beauty on the other.”

Image 8: Willem Claesz. Heda
Christie’s, Paris, France (21 June, 2011)
Estimate: 35,000 – 50,000
Realized Price: €109,000

Image 9: Willem Claesz. Heda
Koller Auctions, Zurich, Switzerland (20 September, 2013)
Estimate: CHF50,000 – CHF70,000
Realized Price: CHF70,000

Image 10: Willem Claesz. Heda
Koller Auctions, Zurich, Switzerland (22 September, 2017)
Estimate: CHF40,000 – CHF60,000
Realized Price: CHF198,500

Image 11: Willem Claesz.Heda,  
A still life of a roemer…
Sotheby’s, London, UK (8 July, 2015)
Estimate: £2,000,000 – £3,000,000
Realized Price: £2,949,000

Jan Steen, 1626–1679

As the son of a brewer, and a licensed innkeeper in later life, Jan Steen’s body of work is full of sometimes humorous, often heartwarming, social scenes. Although considered by the Dutch to be one of Holland’s greatest painters, Steen is less well-known abroad. Due to his famous paintings of dishevelment and domestic catastrophe, the Dutch are known to refer to an untidy house as “a Jan Steen house.”

Image 12: Jan Havicsz Steen, Oil on Canvas
O’Gallerie, Portland, Oregon, USA (18 January, 2012)
Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000
Realized Price: $4,750

Image 13: Jan Steen, Peasants Making Merry In Front of a Tavern
Lempertz, Cologne, Germany (11 May, 2013)
Estimate: €140,000 – €150,000
Realized Price: €183,000

Image 14: Jan Steen, Interior
Palacio da Memoria, Lisbon, Portugal (12 April, 2016)
Estimate: €1,000 – €1,500
Realized Price: €1,200

Image 15: Jan Steen
Koller Auctions, Zurich, Switzerland (31 March, 2017)
Estimate: CHF18,000 – CHF25,000
Realized Price: CHF26,900

Jacob van Ruisdael, 1628–1682

Both a doctor as well as an artist, Jacob van Ruisdael was one of the best-known painters of the Dutch Golden Age and a classical Dutch landscape artist. Recurring motifs in his work include forests and the ruins of watermills and castles. His waterfalls were based on the work of Allart van Everdingen, who had visited Scandinavia. His work is renowned for his ability to conjure the atmosphere of a dark day. He traveled for inspiration, and on his journeys he would sketch and etch.

Image 16: Jacob van Ruisdael,
Wooded Landscape with a Waterfall
Lempertz, Cologne, Germany (12 May, 2012)
Estimate: €100,000 – €140,000
Realized Price: €195,200

Image 17: Jacob Isaackz. van Ruisdael
Koller Auctions, Zurich, Switzerland (25 March, 2015)
Estimate: CHF5,000 – CHF7,000
Realized Price: CHF6,000

Image 18: Jacob van Ruisdael, A Wooded River Landscape
Christie’s, London, UK (8 December, 2015)
Estimated Price: Unavailable
Realized Price: £290,500

Image 19: Jacob van Ruisdael
Christie’s, New York, NY, USA (6 April, 2006)
Estimate: $250,000 – $350,000
Realized Price: $374,400

Rachel Ruysch, 1664–1750

The best-known and most popular woman artist of the Dutch Golden Age, Rachel Ruysch developed the field of floral paintings in the Rococo style. Her subject matter was undoubtedly influenced by her own father, who worked as a botanist. Ruysch’s use of bright colors, coupled with her painstaking attention to detail, made for vivacious works that have remained popular throughout the ages, despite changing trends in still lifes and floral studies.

Image 20: Rachel Ruysch
Koller Auctions, Zurich, Switzerland (28 March 2014)
Estimate: CHF20,000 – CHF30,000
Realized Price: CHF18,000

Image 21: Rachel Ruysch, Flower Still Life with Tulips, Poppy, Viburnum, Bindweed and Chrysanthemums
Lempertz, Cologne, Germany (17 May, 2014)
Estimate: €35,000 – €40,000
Realized Price: €48,000

Image 22: Rachel Ruysch
Artcurial, Paris, France (10 April, 2013)
Estimated: €400,000 – €600,000
Realized Price: €497,474

Image 23: Rachel Ryuysch, Still life of flowers with a nosegay of roses, marigolds, larkspur, a bumblebee and other insects
Sotheby’s, New York, NY, US (22 April, 2015)
Estimate: $400,000 – $600,000
Realized Price: $610,000

Anton Mauve, 1839–1888

Anton Mauve’s work is some of the most sought-after Dutch art on Invaluable. One of the masters of the Hague School, Mauve began his studies as a teenager, when he joined the studio of Pieter Frederick van Os, a specialist painter of cattle. As a young man, Mauve visited Oosterbeek, a popular village among artists, which is thought to have been a significant trip for Mauve as he enjoyed working from nature. He also taught a young Vincent van Gogh, to whom he was related through marriage.

Mauve became successful during his lifetime and his works were highly prized, in particular among American collectors. Mauve’s body of work is well known for his recurrent images of sheep. During Mauve’s lifetime, a notable price distinction was drawn between paintings of sheep coming into view and paintings of sheep going out of view, with the former generally achieving higher prices than the latter.

Image 24: Anton Mauve,
Herding the Sheep
Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas, USA (17 May, 2011)
Estimate: $10,000 – $20,000
Realized Price: $7,767

Image 25: Anton Mauve
Christie’s Amsterdam, Netherlands (7 October, 2014)
Estimate: €6,000 – €8,000
Realized Price: €12,500

Image 26: Anton Mauve
Christie’s, New York, NY, USA (19 April, 2006)
Estimate: $10,000 – $15,000
Realized Price: $9,000

Image 27: Anton Mauve, Pastoral Scene
Maynards Fine Art & Antiques, Vancouver, BC, Canada (28 September, 2016)
Estimate: CAD600 – CAD800
Realized Price: CAD2,337

George Hendrick Breitner, 1857–1923

George Hendrick Breitner was a crucial part of renewed interest in art and practice in the Netherlands, following a period of economic and political turmoil that had led to a decline in artistic production in the early 17th century.

Influenced by the painters of the Hague School, Breitner saw himself as a “painter of the people.” Primarily studying the working class, he captured street scenes and cityscapes as well as portraits. Breitner painted dynamically, with fast strokes. Thanks to this rapid style, some critics at the time considered Breitner’s work “unfinished.” Breitner and fellow artist Vincent van Gogh spent some time drawing together, but never formed a close bond as each artist was critical of the other’s work. On Breitner’s relationship with van Gogh, Bradley Hessink of Hessink’s auction house in the Netherlands says, “Breitner once wrote that he did not like van Gogh’s paintings, it seems like art for Eskimos.”

Breitner was a fan of the political writing of Emile Zola, and spent time with members of the literary movement Tachtigers. Thanks to such influences, Breitner is credited by some for having brought social conscience to the 19th century Netherlands.

On the emotional impact of Breitner’s work, Hessink recalls, “When I was still very young, I worked in my father’s auction house. The few occasions we had a Breitner for sale, I could just stare at it the whole day. No other painters’ paintings released more feelings within me than the work of Breitner. His work not only gives me peace of mind but also invokes a bit of national pride in me, something I find hard to find in modern Holland. His work is very popular at auction, his work sells well and does not appear too often. Works by Breitner can sell for up to $300,000.”

Image 28: George Hendrik Breitner,
Rotterdam Zer Winterzeit
Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany (11 March, 2017)
Estimate: Unavailable
Realized Price: €2,200

Image 29: George Hendrik Breitner, Cavalry Men Maneuvering in the Dunes
Lempertz, Cologne, Germany (15 November, 2014)
Estimate: €20,000 – €30,000
Realized Price: €22,230

Image 30: George Hendrik Breitner, The Dam at Night, Netherlands
Auctionata Paddle8 AG, Berlin, Germany (29 January, 2015)
Estimate: €1,760 – €2,200
Realized Price: €1,928

Image 31: George Hendrik Breitner, Street Scene
Toomey & Co, Oak Park, Illinois, USA (1 June, 2014)
Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000
Realized Price: $4,575

Other Dutch painters to explore: