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

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This online 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 digital excursions.

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 online 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.

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 and case-studies.

Study load

Approximately 40 hours. The course combines many elements, from lectures to online excursions.


Course fee:
Fee covers
Course + course materials

Additional information

If you wish to stay in Utrecht during the duration of your course, please contact us. 

More information

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


Application deadline: 
Registration deadline
18 July 2021