Dutch Art from Mesdag to Van Gogh and Mondrian (1700-1920s)

Course code
Course fee (excl. housing)
Course Level

This course takes you through Dutch art from the 18th and 19th century, up to the early decades of modernism. After the grand 'Golden Age', innovations in the art world stagnated, until artists in the 19th century started to strive for the elusive ideal of truthfulness again, in a totally different way. Sign up for this course and discover the different styles, techniques and approaches of these modern Dutch artists, during both classroom lectures and on-site excursions.

In case on-site classes will not be possible in the Summer of 2021, this course will be taught in an online setting instead. We have experience with an online classroom in 2020. 

After the grand 'Golden Age', when the tiny Dutch Republic grew into an international metropole with a flourishing art market, innovations in the art world stagnated. During the 18th century, Dutch artists followed the French or kept on working in the style of their beloved 'Golden Age'. However, in the 19th century Dutch art flourished again. Modern artists started to strive for the elusive ideal of truthfullness, in a way that radically differed from what their predecessors in the Golden Age did. As Dutch artists began to travel, the art of this period cannot be studied without being placed in a European context.

In their search for truthfulness, modern artists introduced various different painting styles, colour pallets and subjects into Dutch art. They followed European trends, in their own way. Painters as Hendrik Willem Mesdag and the The Hague School focused on the Dutch landscape. They produced lots of seascapes in grey tones for example, which closely resembled the real Dutch landscape. Impressionist artists from Amsterdam, such as George Hendrik Breitner, depicted mostly scenes from everyday life in the city, including the growing industries and the poor, subjects that had not been painted before. Vincent van Gogh started working in this tradition, until he developed his own, recognizable and very colourful style. In the early 20th century, modernism kicked in. Industries and cities grew even more rapidly than before and the view on art changed. Abstract art arose. Artists as Piet Mondrian and Gerrit Rietveld invented their 'pure art', consisting only of horizontal and vertical lines, painted solely using primary colours. 

In this course you will learn more about these famous masters and art movements, but there is much more to discover! Besides painters, many more artists, such as architects, designers and gold- and silversmiths, contributed to the fame of this period with their innovative artworks.

Upon completion of this highly interactive course, you will have seen many highlights from the Dutch 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. You will be able to recognize the main artists, but you will also have become confident in recognizing, discussing and analyzing artworks in general. What you learn in class and during the on-site excursions will therefore not only make you familiar with Dutch art of the modern period, but will also add depth and value to your own travels later on.

Join us on this interactive journey, with daily excursions. Travel and entrance to museums are included in the course fee.

NB: This course is part of the track 'A Journey through Dutch Art'. 

Download the day-to-day programme (PDF)
Course director
Anna Koldeweij, MA

Aim of the course

This course gives students a broad overview of Dutch Art of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries through the exploration of history, culture, daily life, academic approaches, excursions and case-studies.

Study load

Approximately 40 hours. The course combines many elements, from lectures to excursions: no day is the same. Typically, the morning part of the programme takes place in a classroom, which could be a lecture or a seminar. You may also find yourself in a panel discussion, defending a particular approach to art. The afternoons (sometimes the entire day) are devoted to museum visits. Variation is ensured by going into the museum on a tour, in small groups or on your own with an assignment. During these excursions, we devote time to both the factual and technical aspects of the painting, as well as the more personal and subjective ones, so that by the end, you will have explored the art in many dynamic ways. Hidden meanings, unexpected techniques, your peers’ opinions or your own may surprise you and change and broaden your perception of the artworks again and again.

In case this course will be offered online, this course will offer live lectures, supplemented by digital 'fieldtrips' and assignments and working in groups online.


Course fee:
Fee covers
Course + course materials
Housing fee:
Housing cost
Housing provider:
Utrecht Summer School

More information

Utrecht Summer School | E: info@utrechtsummerschool.nl | T: +31 30 253 4400


Application deadline: 
Registration deadline
18 July 2021