We personally meet and greet you at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, and take you to our hotel in downtown Amsterdam. In the afternoon, we take you on a walking tour and canal boat cruise of the key sights in Amsterdam’s canal district, and its unique buildings, dykes, and bridges. This is followed by dinner at Café de Reiger, a legendary 17th century Dutch pub and restaurant known for its great food and ambience. We include wine or beer with all of our evening meals.
Afterwards, we return to our comfortable hotel for an aperitif, and for those of you who arrived from afar, a well-deserved early night and rest.
Visit the IAMSTERDAM website >>
After breakfast, we will spend the morning at the famed Van Gogh Museum where each floor is devoted to a specific stage of Vincent’s artistic development. Bill will share important details from the letters of Van Gogh, making the museum come alive. This will be followed by a light lunch in the fine museum restaurant.
The afternoon will be spent at the Stedelijk Museum, which is one of the most important modern art museums in the world. It is right next door to the Van Gogh Museum.
Visit the Van Gogh Museum website >>
We proceed to the renowned Rijksmuseum after breakfast where we will spend a good deal of the morning becoming familiar with some of the great Dutch artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Steen, Hals, etc. Bill will discuss several key works of art in the collection that directly influenced Van Gogh’s use of texture, light and contrast.
After lunch at the acclaimed museum cafe, our guests have the opportunity to continue their visit in the Rijksmuseum examining the great decorative art sections and important historical artifacts, or shop and explore other locations in Amsterdam.
Visit the Rijksmuseum website >>
Today we visit the Frans Hals and Teylers Museums in the quaint canal city of Haarlem renowned for its many shops and quality restaurants. The Frans Hals Museum is housed in an elegant 17th century former Alms House built around an interior garden. Visitors will have the rare opportunity to see works that inspired the young Van Gogh, in particular Hals’ mural-sized group portraits of Haarlem’s Civic guard as they are depicted enjoying lavish feasts.
The Teylers Museum features important works by Anton Mauve, who was Van Gogh’s cousin and first art teacher. In addition to Mauve’s pastoral paintings, visitors will enjoy an important collection of the Hague School famed for their rural subjects and subdued atmospheric paintings. In other parts of the museum, rare drawings by Michelangelo and Rembrandt are often exhibited along with rare fossils, gemstones and 15th-18th century scientific displays. The building itself is an unforgettable architectural experience, as Teylers is a fascinating former townhouse/museum of a prominent art collector. Time permitting we also visit the Corrie Ten Boom house located near the town center.
Visit the Frans Hals Museum website >>
After breakfast, and drive to the small, picturesque town of Bussum, where Johanna van Gogh lived with her young son for over a decade. Here we team up with local historian Marcus van der Heide and become acquainted with the fascinating 80’s Group known as the tachtigers, some of whom were instrumental in the art historical education of Johanna, helping to groom her to become one of the greatest art dealers of the late nineteen and early twentieth century.
Learn more about Johanna: the Other Van Gogh >>
After breakfast, we drive directly to the beautiful rural village of Nuenen, in Brabant. Nuenen is where Vincent began his painting career in earnest, where he produced his series of studies of local peasants and mill workers, and where he produced his famous Potato Eaters in 1885. Vincent opened his first workshop in the vicarage, just a few meters from the beautiful church where his father was vicar. Many of Vincent’s early paintings were made in the vicarage workshop and include views from its window.
We visit the Vincentre, the museum dedicated to Van Gogh’s time in Nuenen, and team up with Ton de Brouwer, one of the most knowledgable historians on Vincent’s life, and author of the book Van Gogh and Nuenen. Ton was instrumental in the design and construction of the museum along with former mayor of Nuenen, Willem Ligtfoet. After lunch, we take you on a walking tour of local sites, including the exact spots where Vincent stood as he drew and painted some of his best-known works.
We visit the nearby WATERMOLEN van Opwetten (Watermill in Opwetten), which exists to this day as a fine restaurant, and where we will enjoy dinner before returning to our hotel in Amsterdam.
Visit Nuenen’s website >>
The morning is free for our guests to explore Amsterdam at will, and our trip leaders are always available for consultation.
We then will visit the beautiful Hermitage Museum on the River Amstel, the only branch of the famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The exhibit, “Romanovs & Revolution. The End of Monarchy” will open in February 2017, exactly a century after the outbreak of the Russian Revolution. This will be the only showing of the exhibition in Western Europe. It will include over 250 items from the collections of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the State Archive of the Russian Federation in Moscow, and the Artillery Museum in St. Petersburg.
Using films, photographs, paintings, objets d’art and historical documents, the show will tell the gripping story of fashionable St Petersburg and the art that flourished there in the early twentieth century, of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra, and of the explosive political and social circumstances of their reign. Visitors will see and hear how choices and decisions made by the tsar made revolution inevitable and spelled the inescapable end of the 300-year Romanov monarchy in Russia. They will also gain moving intimate insights into the final years of the imperial family, ending in their murder.
Visit the Hermitage Museum website >>
Today is essentially a free day for you to explore and shop in Amsterdam’s bustling and fascinating canal district. For those interested, we will take a couple of hours in the morning to visit the Rembrandthuis, Rembrandt van Rijn’s home and workshop. For twenty years the Netherlands’ greatest artist lived and worked in this impressive building in the heart of Amsterdam, now a museum. The Rembrandt House Museum gives visitors a complete Rembrandt experience. With a seventeenth-century inventory as a guide, the house has been meticulously refurbished with furniture, art and objects from that time. The museum has an almost complete collection of Rembrandt etchings and stages inspiring exhibitions about Rembrandt, his predecessors, contemporaries and pupils.
Visit the Rembrandthuis website >>
Today we drive to the town of Otterloo, to the renowned Kröller-Müller Museum, with an introduction along the way to the remarkable Helene Kröller-Müller, the wife of a well-known industrialist, who in the early 20th century amassed the second largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings and drawings in the world.
The museum is situated in the middle of De Hoge Veluwe National Park amid beautifully landscaped gardens. The Kröller-Müller Museum contains, in addition to Van Gogh’s art, an extraordinary collection of 19th and 20th century masterpieces.
Amid the beautiful landscape surrounding the museum proper is an extraordinary number of important sculptural works by major European masters. The calm natural surroundings impart a reflective quality to our visit, making it one of the most memorable art museum experiences in the world.
Visit the Kröller-Müller Museum website >>
Today we get a taste of early Dutch history and culture when we drive (about 40 minutes) to the picturesque towns of Hoorn and Edam (famous for its cheese).
Hoorn was founded around the year 1200, and quickly gained in importance as a harbour town in the 14th century, developing trade links with the Baltic and Flanders. In 1356 Hoorn became a chartered city, and continued to prosper. It became one the most important and wealthiest towns on the Zuiderzee, and it was even competing with Amsterdam. The town boasted numerous warehouses and shipyards, and ships from Hoorn sailed all around the world. In fact, Cape Horn was named after the town when two ships from Hoorn were the first to sail around the southernmost tip of South America in 1616.
Edam has a rich history. It began in the 12th century, when farmers and fishermen settled along the little Ye river, hence the name ‘Yedam’. This primitive settlement developed into an increasingly prosperous town well into the 17th century. Shipbuilding played an important role in its growth, and Edam once boasted 33 shipyards that built many famous ships. One of them was the ‘Halve Maan’, the ship that the Englishman Henry Hudson sailed in 1609 when attempting to discover a northern route to the East Indies. This proved to be futile and he ended up on the island of Manhattan. And of course we explore the well-respected Edam cheese, sample some, and even bring some home!
Today is dedicated to visiting Den Haag (The Hague), specifically the beautiful Mauritshuis, home to the best of Dutch painting from the Golden Age. The compact, yet world-renowned collection, is situated in the heart of The Hague, right next to the government centre. Masterpieces such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt, The Goldfinch by Fabritius and The Bull by Potter are on permanent display in the intimate rooms of this seventeenth-century monument.
The Hague is also the seat of the Dutch government, parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Council of State, but the city is not the capital of the Netherlands, which constitutionally is Amsterdam. Most foreign embassies in the Netherlands and 150 international organisations are located in the city, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands lives at Huis ten Bosch and works at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, together with Queen Máxima.
Visit the Mauritshuis website >>
During the morning of our last full day, we take you to the quaint town of Delft, famous not just for its blue and white porcelain but also as the home of the painter Johannes Vermeer, one of the best known artists from the Dutch Golden Age. His name is inextricably linked with Delft, the city in which he was born in 1632 and where he lived and worked all his life. His paintings found their way all over the world.
Seven of his works are still in Dutch museums: the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The Vermeer Center Delft is housed on the historic site of the former St. Lucas Guild, where Vermeer was Dean of the painters for many years.
We return to our hotel in Amsterdam after lunch to allow our guests ample free time to unwind, pack and prepare for their homeward journey the next day.
We have an early checkout, and transfer our guests to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport for their return or onward journey. If any of our guests prefer to spend more time in Amsterdam itself, we are happy to drive you to your hotel, or if you are going on to another destination by train, we will gladly take you to your railway station.