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Art in the Netherlands - A spectrum of the finest

A study of Dutch art in some of the finest museums of the Netherlands.

Features artists of the 17th-century Golden Age (Rembrandt, Vermeer), Van Gogh and other major figures.

Also architecture and design from medieval to modern, and several highly picturesque historic town centres.

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16 - 22 Oct 2024 £3,310 Book this tour

  • The Five Syndics, engraving c. 1886 after Rembrandt.
  • The Music Maker and his Pupil, wood engraving c. 1880 after Vermeer.
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The 17th century was the Golden Age in the history and art history of the northern Netherlands. (Much of this activity was concentrated in Holland, though that was but one of seven provinces which constituted the United Provinces, now the Kingdom of the Netherlands.) This was the time of Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Vermeer and innumerable other great masters. 

The Dutch School is of universal appeal, with its mix of realism, painterliness and potency, though it is best appreciated in the excellent art galleries of their native country – and against the background of the well preserved and wonderfully picturesque towns and cities. With their canals, cobbled alleys and gabled mansions, many have changed little in 300 years.

There is also focus on Vincent Van Gogh, the bulk of whose output is in the Netherlands. Painters of the Hague School of the 19th century have a presence, as do pioneers of modernism in painting and architecture, the architects Van der Velde and Gerrit Rietveld for example, and the abstract painter Piet Mondriaan. More recent art and architecture also features.

The base for the tour is a five-star hotel in Utrecht, whose central location means relatively short journeys to all places visited.

Day 1

Utrecht. Fly at c. 11.45am (British Airways) from London Heathrow to Amsterdam Schiphol. Continue by coach to Utrecht, where all six nights are spent.


Day 2

Amsterdam. With its rings of canals lined with merchants’ mansions, Amsterdam is one of the loveliest capitals in the world. Our visit to the brilliantly refurbished Rijksmuseum concentrates on the major works in its unrivalled collection of 17th-century paintings, Rembrandt’s Night Watch and four Vermeers among them. The house where Rembrandt lived and worked for nearly 20 years is well restored and has a display of prints.


Day 3

Utrecht. One of the best-preserved historic cities in the Netherlands, Utrecht features canals flanked by unbroken stretches of Golden Age houses. The excellent art museum has a major collection of paintings of the 17th-century Utrecht School. See also the Rietveld House (1924), a landmark of 20th-century architecture.


Day 4

Otterlo. Located in gardens and surrounded by an extensive heath, the beautiful Kröller-Müller Museum has one of the great collection of works by Van Gogh as well as an eclectic holding of paintings, furniture and sculpture. A leisurely visit here allows time to explore the 75-acre park with its outdoor sculptures.


Day 5

The Hague. The Mauritshuis at Den Haag contains a superb collection of paintings including masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer. Exhibited in the Kunstmuseum are 19th-century Hague School paintings, the realist milieu from which Van Gogh emerged, and works by the pioneer abstractionist Mondriaan. Visit also the illusionistic Mesdag panorama and the centre of the city, seat of the court and parliament.


Day 6

Amsterdam. Return to Amsterdam for a second visit to the Rijksmuseum. The Van Gogh Museum houses the biggest holding (over 200) of the artist’s works, largely from his brother Theo’s collection.


Day 7

Leiden. The Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden reopened in 2019 after radical refurbishment. Originally built as the guildhall for cloth merchants, it houses works by Rembrandt. Fly from Amsterdam Schiphol to Heathrow, arriving at c. 3.30pm.

We sometimes change the visits on this itinerary to take advantage of temporary exhibitions.

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Desmond Shawe-Taylor

Distinguished art historian and museum administrator whose posts have included Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures and Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery. He studied English Literature at Oxford and took an MA in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute. He has written extensively on English eighteenth-century portraiture and other subjects, and curated a series of exhibitions at the Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh and London, dealing with Dutch and Flemish 17th-century art.

Price, per person

Two sharing: £3,310 or £3,140 without flights. Single occupancy: £3,820 or £3,650 without flights. 



Flights (Euro Traveller) with British Airways (Airbus 320); hotel accommodation; travel by private coach; breakfasts and 4 dinners with wine, water and coffee; admission to museums and galleries; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.



The Grand Hotel Karel V, Utrecht: 5-star hotel converted from a 19th-century hospital in a quiet location within the city walls. Single rooms are doubles for sole use.

How strenuous?

There is quite a lot of walking and standing around, and the tour would not be suitable for anyone with difficulties with everyday walking and stair-climbing. Average distance by coach per day: 70 miles.

Are you fit enough to join the tour? 

Group size

Between 10 and 22 participants.

Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.

Combine with

In 2024:

Frank Lloyd Wright, 30 September–10 October

Courts of Northern Italy, 4–11 October

Basilicata & Calabria, 4–12 October

Malta: prehistoric to present, 7–13 October

The Douro, 8–15 October

Connoisseur’s Pompeii, 11–14 October

Istanbul Revealed, 24–31 October

Samarkand & Silk Road Cities, 24 October–5 November

Sicily: from the Greeks to the Baroque, 25 October–3 November

Essential Jordan, 26 October–3 November

Gastronomic Catalonia, 28 October–4 November

'This was a really marvellous week.'

'Wonderful! I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit and revisit so many towns in the Netherlands where art and architecture are sublime.'

'Extremely detailed.'

'The tour manger was wonderfully good-humoured, kind, helpful, and endlessly patient.'