When you think of influential art cultures, we’d venture to guess that the Netherlands isn’t at the top of your list. Instead, you may first picture countries like France or Italy because of their prestige in the formative art periods. But the Netherlands has made a name for itself in the art world with styles all its own. This art has transcended the bounds of history and its influence can be seen today in the subtle undertones of Dutch interior design and beyond.
Dutch interior design, therefore, comes from an extensive root system–a style influenced by these centuries of art. From the Renaissance and Baroque periods to modern street art, Dutch artists have made an impact. In this article, we’ll explore three influential Dutch artists you need to know to paint a picture (albeit limited) of the history of Dutch interior design. Grab a mug of tea and let’s go back in time.
Vincent van Gogh (30 March 1853 to 29 July 1890)
It wouldn’t be a proper list of artists from the Netherlands without the mention of Vincent van Gogh, so let’s start with him. Vincent van Gogh is a Dutch post-impressionist painter who has arguably become (posthumously) one of the most famous painters of all time.
Van Gogh’s work is known for its bold colors and definitive (and expressive) paint strokes, creating a texture and vibrancy all his own. From fashion to interiors, Van Gogh’s influence can be felt to this day.
This artist and his bold colors and textures have maintained their influence for over a century–the Dutch interior design’s mid-century modern vibe can be seen as a nod to Van Gogh’s style.
Rembrandt van Rijn (15 July 1605 to 4 October 1669)
Another artist we’d be remiss to miss: Rembrandt.
There’s something quite impressive about a relatively small country that can boast birthing artists like Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Rembrandt, a Dutch Golden Age painter who never left the Netherlands in his life, became one of the most influential painters on an international stage.
His subject varied, but his paintings were known for their contrast between light and dark tonalities and their depictions of the human condition. Today, we can see his influence the world over. People who wouldn’t recognize his paintings still know of his name and brilliance.
The influence Rembrandt has had would be difficult to understate, but the homes of the Netherlands may have been both a source of inspiration for Rembrandt in his time and a reflection of his influence today.
Dutch row homes are traditionally dark - with long corridors and limited windows - offering a light perspective that, without modern electricity (as he would have experienced them), can be seen in his paintings. Today, Dutch interior design still has a touch of that earthiness and plays on lighting.
Gerrit Rietveld (24 June 1888 to 25 June 1964)
An artist that is less internationally known, but incredibly influential in the Netherlands (and Dutch interior design) is Gerrit Rietveld. He was a pioneer of modern Dutch design. His vision still heavily influences the style (and more) today.
Rietveld is arguably one of the driving forces behind Dutch design’s more reserved cousin, Scandinavian design–a style popularized globally through stores like IKEA. He used harsh lines, diagonal angles, unconventional shapes, bold colors, and more to bring his designs to life.
Here are some designs where you can see his lingering influence:
Closing Thoughts: Dutch Interior Design through Art History
The influence of Dutch artists throughout history can be felt and explored through today’s Dutch designs. While we’ve explored three influential artists, there are dozens more where they came from–artists specializing in painting, sculpture, street art, graphic design, and beyond.
We hope we’ve piqued your interest in to what makes Dutch art and design so special. If you’d like to learn more about Dutch design or the culture of the Netherlands, we recommend you join our weekly newsletter for more.