For a tiny country, the Netherlands has produced an astounding array of some the world’s best artists. Over hundreds of years, Dutch artists have made their outsized mark on the world, creating new styles and changing the art world. Let’s take a look.

Dutch painters you should knowYou probably already know their work, but here’s a guide to the famous Dutch painters you should know.

Dutch master paintersFor half a millennium, these classic Dutch painters shaped, inspired and sometimes shocked the global art world with their talent. Here are some of the best:

Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516)Born as Jheronimus van Aken, Hieronymus Bosch ended up taking his famous surname from the town of Den Bosch, where he was born in around 1450. Very little is known of the man himself and no one knows where he learnt his skills, but he put them to extraordinary use.

His art is often described as nightmarish, and with good reason. While his depictions of hell are meant to make you quake and quiver, with their horrifying monsters and painful-looking tortures, even his paradises are often also full of bewildering creations, such as multi-headed birds, men hugging giant strawberries, and people riding flying fish.

Unfortunately, he left behind no interpretations of his work. This means that over the years, he has been seen as everything from an incredibly pious artist to a purveyor of witchcraft!

The city of Den Bosch is extremely proud of its eponymous artist, and there are statues of his weird little creations throughout the streets, as well as a museum with reproductions of almost every known piece of work he completed.

Key pieces:

The Garden of Earthly Delights The Temptation of St Anthony Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569)Born in around 1525, Bruegel the Elder became one of the most significant Dutch Renaissance painters. He pioneered a trend that changed the art world, of no longer producing paintings of biblical landscapes and Bible stories, but paintings of everyday vistas and people at work instead.

Many of Bruegel’s paintings depict celebrations of regular people as well, and are called things like The Peasant Wedding, The Peasant Dance and The Fight Between Carnival and Lent. One of his most fun paintings, and one of the most indebted to Bosch, is Netherlandish Proverbs. This chaotically busy “village” scene is jam-packed with depictions of Dutch and Flemish proverbs from the time. Over 100 proverbs have been identified in the painting so far!

Having said that, his most famous work is The Tower of Babel, which can be found in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, and it depicts the famous tower from the Bible story.

Key pieces:

The Peasant Wedding The Tower of Babel

Frans Hals (c.1582-1666)Frans Hals was born Antwerp, in what was then the Spanish Netherlands, but his parents fled the Fall of Antwerp when he was just a couple of years old, and he lived in the Haarlem for the rest of his life.

By this time, art in the new Dutch Republic had undertaken a complete about-face, and religious art was frowned upon as possible sign of Catholicism. As a result, Frans Hals specialised in portraiture. Art was still valued and encouraged, and the richer members of society wanted themselves and their families commemorated by great artists. Among the great and the good of the Netherlands, he also managed to fit in a painting of famous philosopher Rene Descartes.

British readers will almost certainly recognise one of Hals’ paintings, but they will probably not know who it was by nor what it truly depicts. Laughing Cavalier is one of the most famous paintings in the UK, but only gained this name thanks to an enthusiastic curator when it was exhibited in the UK in 1872, 250 years after it was painted. The sitter is an unknown Dutchman, possibly a member of a militia, but certainly not an English Cavalier, as many Brits assume.

Key pieces:

The Gypsy Girl Laughing Cavalier

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)Rembrandt is undoubtedly one of the most famous artists in the world. He was working in a period that came to be known as the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch trade, arts and sciences were all flourishing. He painted a wide range of topics, from portraits to landscapes to biblical scenes, and he also completed over 2.000 sketches.

Fantastic as it sounds now given his global reputation, Rembrandt was plagued by money troubles throughout his life, which partly explains the sheer quantity of paintings that he produced. He was constantly needed to work to pay his debts, and his many, many portraits of the inhabitants of Amsterdam have become a valuable resource in understanding how people lived at the time.

His house and studio on Jodenbreestraat in Amsterdam is now a museum, and gives an excellent insight into life in Amsterdam in the 17th century as well as into the man himself. The Rijksmuseum also has a lot of his work on display, including the immense The Night Watch, which hangs in its own gallery.

Key pieces:

The Night Watch The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750)A native of The Hague, Rachel Ruysch was an extremely talented still-life painter, with a specialism in flowers. Her father was a professor of anatomy and botany, and she grew up surrounded by specimens which helped her learn her craft.

At the age of 15 she was apprenticed to a flower painter in Amsterdam and by the age of 18 she was selling her work independently. She was not the only female painter working at the time, but she is unusual in that she continued to paint after her marriage. The fact she married another painter probably had something to do with that!

During her life she enjoyed great fame and renown, and her paintings sold for more than Rembrandt’s did during his lifetime. In 1701 she became the first female member of the painter’s guild of The Hague. She was still breaking glass ceilings 300 years later: in 2021, she became one of the first female artists to be admitted into the “Gallery of Honour” in the Rijksmuseum, alongside Gesina ter Borch and Judith Leyster.

Key pieces:

Still Life with Flowers on a Marble Tabletop Flowers on a tree trunk

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)The small city of Delft is where Vermeer called home all his life. He is an enigmatic man, and seems to have had little in his life outside of his art. He became extremely well-known and his paintings were sought after in Delft and the surrounding villages, but he was never truly famous in his lifetime and he died in debt.

Part of the reason for his lack of money is he always painted with very expensive pigments, using them more lavishly and extensively than anyone else in this era. The results are that his paintings, usually of small, domestic scenes, often set in his own rooms, are luminously bright and sumptuous, even today.

Little is known of his life, and there is no evidence that he had any formal training. Even today, the art world still buzzes with theories about how an untrained painter, who seems to have done no preparatory sketches, could achieve such photo-realistic work.

His two most famous paintings, Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Milkmaid, are both to be found in the Netherlands, the first in the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the second in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Key pieces:

Girl with a Pearl Earring The Milkmaid

Dutch modern artistsAs the world changed towards the end of the 19th century, so did Dutch art. Dutch artists continued to push boundaries and redefine the very concept of art. Here are some of the best modern Dutch artists:

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)Arguably one of the most famous painters in the world, Dutch or otherwise, Van Gogh is a great example of the changing art world in the late 1800s. His early work was generally portraits of peasants and labourers, sitting somewhere between realistic and caricature. However, it was not until he moved to Paris in 1886, just four years before his untimely death at the age of 37, that he saw the possibilities of the new modernism movement in art and developed his trademark style.

His work is post-impressionist, and his short, stuttering brush strokes also owe something to the George Seurat and the pointillist movement, but Van Gogh is undoubtedly his own thing. Famously, and cruelly, he remained unappreciated in his lifetime, without selling a single painting – despite his brother being a renowned art dealer! Now, however, his works are routinely among the most expensive ever sold.

The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam provides an excellent overview of his life and works, and seeing his style gradually emerge over time is a wondrous feeling. Make sure to book your tickets in advance, though, as it sells out fast!

Key Pieces:

Sunflowers The Starry Night

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) and Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931)Hot on the heels of van Gogh for title of most famous modern artist is Piet Mondrian. However, without his friend Theo van Doesburg, people might never have heard of him. They were both pioneers of early 20th century abstract art, transforming the very idea of what art could be.

The art world was changing so rapidly at this point in time that it is hard to comprehend. In 1870, Monet’s first impressionist works shocked and appalled the art world and just 50 years later, Mondrian was producing his grid-based paintings of pure colour and form.

Mondrian was already gaining some notoriety in the art world when Theo van Doesburg first contacted him, but these early paintings bear little resemblance of the radical work that would come later. Together, in 1917, they founded a magazine and an art group known as De Stijl, which would go on to influence artists around the world for decades.

De Stijl pushed for pure abstraction and the artists set themselves a strictly limited “art vocabulary” they could use, such as only using rectangular forms, straight horizontal and vertical lines and only primary colours and values. Mondrian’s black gridlines on a white canvas, with panels of red, blue and yellow are synonymous with modern art the world over.

De Stijl had an impact beyond the art world too, influencing both architecture, particularly the Bauhaus movement, and design, with De Stijl furniture still being extremely sought after. The Rietveld Schröder House is a great example of De Stijl architecture, which you can visit in Utrecht. You might also notice that many municipal buildings, schools and train stations still use De Stijl colours in their designs. 

Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum has an excellent permanent De Stijl exhibition, and Amersfoort, Mondrian’s home town, has a small museum dedicated to the man and his art.

Key pieces:

Van Doesburg: Neo-Plasticism: Composition VII (the three graces) Mondrian: Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow Willem de Kooning (1904-1997)Although he lived in American most of his life and eventually renounced his Dutch citizenship, De Kooning was born in Rotterdam and didn’t move to America until he was 22 years old.

A prolific and influential abstract painter, it took a long time for De Kooning to gain the notoriety he deserved. He was known for a long time as a “painter’s painter” – someone that others in the art scene looked up to as a leader and pioneer, but who somehow remained little known to the general public.

De Kooning was strongly influenced by other modern artists of the day, including Picasso, Mondrian and Miro. His art was part of the action painting movement, made most famous by Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings. His work is frenetic in style, full of energy and life, and meant to represent the artist’s emotions and psyche at the moment of painting.

Key pieces:

The Woman Series Interchange Video credit: Youtube / Smarthistory

Karel Appel (1921-2006)In 1948, a group of young, international artists who wanted to move away from both naturalistic art and “sterile” abstract art formed an avant-garde art group called Cobra, after the capital cities of each of the members (Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam).

Amsterdammer Karel Appel was one of those artists, and took part in the first Cobra art exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1949. The exhibition generated outrage in the Dutch art world, and the group were derided as “scribblers” or even con artists.

The Cobra movement focussed heavily on the process of creating art, rather than the outcome. They believed that making art should be joyous, like it is for children, and their works were often bold, brightly colourful and fun. The Cobra group disbanded after only three years, but it had already made a huge impact on the world by that point.

Karel Appel continued to work in the Cobra style, and his paintings feature folkloric and mythic elements, and often look childish at first glance.

The Cobra museum in Amstelveen features several of his artworks, and a huge sculpture of his sits in the courtyard just outside.

Key pieces:

People and animals Hip, Hip, Hoorah! Video credit: Youtube / Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Which is your favourite Dutch painter?Dutch painters have had such an impact on the art world, it’s easy to imagine the entire history of art could have been very different without their impact! With so many amazing famous Dutch artists, can you choose a favourite? Let us know in the comments below!

A move to the Netherlands involves a lot of organising and one of the most crucial boxes you need to tick is finding a new home. In this article, @WORK Makelaardij gives you five questions to ask to make the house-hunting process less daunting and more efficient.

The decision has been made: you’re moving to the Netherlands. When making the cross-border leap, you will want to find a place to live. However, that can be quite the task, especially if you don’t speak the language and aren’t familiar with local laws, regulations, and customs.

So, where to start if you’re looking for a new house in the Netherlands? This list of questions will provide a foundation for the house-hunting process and make it easier to go through the different steps.

1. Should I buy or rent a house?Buying a house is no easy feat, so renting might seem like a better alternative. But remember, both options will require you to pay a monthly amount for your home. If you buy a home, your property is an investment, and you’re simply paying off your debt. Rent, however, is basically wasted money.

Moreover, expats are usually charged more rent in the Netherlands, so it’s often cheaper in the long term to buy a house.

2. How to prepare for a house viewing?The average house viewing doesn’t last longer than 30 minutes. That means you can walk around a bit, but it’s not enough to make an important decision like buying a house. So, do your homework, prepare a list of questions, and get all the answers you need. Also, take a moment to sit on the couch and determine whether the place feels like home. Finally, make sure you explore the neighbourhood and see if it feels safe.

3. What hard-and-fast data should I collect before making a decision?A property that was built before 1980 might have foundation problems, and it may cost 1.500 to 2.000 euros per square meter to fix. Additionally, if there’s lead and asbestos in the property, you will also have to reach into your own pocket to have them removed.

Furthermore, you might need certain permits if you decide to buy a house in the Netherlands. And a mortgage lender will want to know if the homeowner’s association is viable.

Briefly put, you have to collect crucial information before you decide to make an offer. If you prefer to get some guidance, work with a reliable local expert (see question five below).

4. How do you make a good offer?Devising a good bidding strategy is a complex process. You want your offer to be competitive yet realistic. But sometimes, a little patience goes a long way. If, for example, a house hasn’t been sold after two weeks, its price will usually drop. That means that you might get a better deal if you wait. But if you really want a certain house, this strategy comes with risks.

Since no two cases are the same, it’s often best to work with an expert who knows the area and the housing market!

5. What can a real estate agent do for you?Buying a house in the Netherlands is a difficult process, especially for expats. Therefore, it’s often wise to work with a local expert. However, you should only hire a well-versed real estate agent who listens to your demands, takes time to explain things to you and has your best interests at heart.

Additional questionsHere are a few questions you might want to ask during an introductory meeting:

“Do you have experience working with expats?” “Do you have a wide network in the area of my choice?” “What type of guidance and support do you provide?” “How can we contact you if questions pop up throughout the house-buying process?” “Do you have the construction engineering knowledge required to assess a property’s condition?” “Are you a certified real estate agency?” For the last question, you should ask the agency if they are a part of the VBO (Vereniging Bemiddeling Onroerend Goed), a reliable trade organisation in the Netherlands which requires its certified members to complete and take compulsory training courses every year. 

Contact a real estate agentIf you are looking to buy a property in the Netherlands as an expat, a local real estate agent can give you expert advice and take you through the whole process. A real estate agent ensures that you are not alone in your journey and that you have the specific knowledge and support that you need.

@WORK Makelaardij’s experienced and committed real estate agents adopt a customer-oriented, flexible approach when working with expats looking to move house in the Netherlands. Do you want more information about the house-hunting process? Or would you like to know how @WORK Makelaardij can help you find your dream house? Feel free to get in touch!

Often, when an employer wants to dismiss an employee, the former will offer the employee a settlement agreement. In this article, Irene Lansen from ScheerSanders Advocaten explains the settlement process in the Netherlands.

Under Dutch law, employees are very much protected from being dismissed when they have entered into a permanent employment contract. In principle, employers can only dismiss an employee on the basis of certain grounds, such as performance issues, a bad relationship, etc.

Depending on the specific ground for dismissal, an employer must obtain permission for dismissal from either the court or the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). However, an employer may also offer the employee a settlement agreement. If the employee agrees to such a settlement, permission from the court or UWV is not required.

So, what are the main things to consider before signing a settlement agreement? Read on to find out.

1. Get legal advice!It is important for employees to obtain solid legal advice before signing a settlement agreement. A lawyer can review the settlement agreement and also assist with negotiating a better deal. Normally, an employer will offer to pay for (part of) the legal fees for instructing a lawyer. This is because it is also in the employer’s interest that the employee agrees to the terms of the settlement agreement.

2. Settlement paymentIn case of termination of employment, an employee is entitled to a so-called transition payment. This transition payment amounts to a third of a month’s salary per year worked. However, an employee will often be able to negotiate a better deal, as the employer will be keen to avoid time-consuming and costly court or UWV proceedings. Some years ago, it was common under Dutch law to award one month’s salary per year of service. Often, this award is still used as a starting point in negotiations.

Many expats in the Netherlands qualify for the 30% ruling. This entitles employees to a tax-free allowance of 30% of their salary to cover additional costs for working away from their country of origin. However, a settlement payment is not covered by this 30% ruling. Instead, the normal tax rate is applied.

3. Notice periodIn the settlement agreement, both the employer and the employee should take into account the employer’s notice period. The applicable notice period is usually included in the employment agreement. If there is no reference to any notice period or the employment agreement refers to the statutory notice period, the amount of notice depends on the length of service of the employee.

For up to five years of service, the notice period is one month. For every additional five years of service another month of notice is applied, up to a maximum of four months’ notice in case of 15 years of service or longer. Notice should be given at the end of the month, unless another date has been agreed in the employment agreement. This means that if the parties enter into a settlement agreement on March 15 and a notice period of one month applies, the termination date is thus May 1.

The employer and the employee may also elect an earlier termination date. In such a case, the employee should ensure that the employer still compensates the employee for their salary during the notice period. This can be done by increasing the settlement payment with a lump sum equivalent to this salary. This is important in case the employee would like to apply for unemployment benefits, or a so-called WW-uitkering in Dutch. Those benefits will only be paid after the applicable notice period has expired.

4. Garden leaveIn addition, it is common for employers and employees to agree that the latter will be exempt from work, once the parties have entered into the settlement agreement and the employee has handed over their work. This prevents the employer from having an employee at work who is no longer motivated to perform, whilst the employee has the opportunity to look for another role elsewhere.

In return, although employees are entitled to be paid out their remaining holidays after termination of employment, parties often agree that any leave will be deemed to have been taken during garden leave.

However, garden leave may have an impact on the employee’s eligibility for the 30% ruling. If the garden leave takes more than a month, following the month in which the employee has agreed to the settlement agreement, an employer may no longer apply the 30% ruling to any salary payment. Also, the employee should find another role within three months after going on garden leave in order to remain eligible for the 30% ruling.

5. Non-competition clauseFinally, the settlement agreement may include a clause that the agreed upon non-competition clause will be waived after the termination of employment. Whether or not this is acceptable for the employer depends on the nature of the employer’s business and the employee’s role. Waiving the non-competition clause is of course in the interest of the employee, as this usually increases their chances of finding another job.

Typically, when employers agree to waive a non-competition clause, any confidentiality obligations will remain applicable. This means that, if the employee joins a competitor, they are not allowed to disclose any confidential information obtained from the employer.

If you have been offered a settlement agreement by your employer and you would like to obtain legal advice, please feel free to contact Irene Lansen from ScheerSanders Advocaten to assist you via [email protected] or +31 70 365 9933.

Goal setting isn’t necessarily the right solution for small business owners who are feeling overwhelmed, although that’s the advice that’s often given. People like to say, “If you don’t know what you want, you need to set some goals.” But what if, instead of focusing on goals and things to do, you focused more on space and time to think?

“All ideas grow out of other ideas.” ~ Anish Kapoor

Finding spaceYou might be thinking, that sounds great, but where am I supposed to find the time to do that, when I don’t have time to do everything else I want to do in my business? If you don’t have time to create more space, it may be time to adjust your business model.

You may need to hire someone, increase your prices, or change the way you’re delivering your services in order to find that time and space for yourself. If you’re a die-hard goal-setter, however, and it works for you, then please continue with it. I’m not trying to talk you out of goal setting. I’m trying to talk you into space setting. You may even find that by creating space, your goals emerge on their own, naturally.

Here are three types of space to consider building into your schedule:

1. Space for working on your businessYou’ve probably heard the distinction between working “in” your business versus working “on” your business made popular by the book The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. It’s easy to get stuck, overwhelmed, or headed in the wrong direction if you’re working non-stop in your business. On the other hand, when you create space to work on your business and think more strategically about where you want to go, things become clear. And with clarity, you’re able to make decisions that will move you forward in a productive way.

One way to create this space is to make one day a week appointment-free. And, if possible, one week per month appointment-free.

2. Space for thinkingOne of my clients mentioned that he has already scheduled two weeks for thinking about his business – one in spring and one in autumn. He got the idea from Bill Gates, who has been doing “think weeks” in a cabin in the woods for years.

If you can’t go away somewhere to have thinking space, at least go to an inspiring location locally during the day. Think about a beautiful hotel lobby, a co-working space, or somewhere in nature.

3. Space for beingIt’s also critical to create space to just be, without an agenda. This time is meant to let your mind wander wherever it wants to go. I personally love to take daily walks in the woods to create space and move my body. If you want to tap into new possibilities, it’s not going to happen by only setting aside time for brainstorming business ideas. Decide when and how you want to create space and then grab your agenda and set it in stone.

I hope you’re feeling inspired to plan more space into your schedule.