Skip navigation

Painters of Drenthe

Since the 19th century, artists have come to Drenthe in large numbers to be inspired by the landscape and villages.

Drenthe is known for its beautiful nature and friendly people. The province is also popular among artists, a journey of discovery that took off in the nineteenth century. It is they who immortalised the province on canvas and painted a picture that to this day brings many people to the province, from the Netherlands and far beyond.

Painters' paradise Drenthe

Armed with an easel and tubes of paint, artists have been braving the wild but beautiful Drenthe landscape since the eighteenth century. Egbert van Drielst was one of the first to depict the province in a characteristic, romantic way.

In the nineteenth century, industrialisation and the growth of cities rapidly changed the Dutch landscape. Artists went all over the country in search of characteristic rural life and unspoilt nature. 

Drenthe had all these characteristics and emerged as a true paradise for painters. A 'Barbizon of the North', referring to the French town of Barbizon where the tradition of outdoor painting began.

Famous painters in Drenthe

Drenthe's vast, wild nature brought many great artists from the second half of the nineteenth century to the province. Think of members of The Hague School, such as landscape painters Jozef Israëls (1824-1911) and the couple Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915) and Sientje Mesdag-van Houten (1834-1909), but also German Max Liebermann (1847-1935), Frenchman Alphonse Stengelin (1852-1938) and Hungarian László Paál (1846-1879). To this day, artists continue to portray Drenthe's unique characteristics. But perhaps the best known is Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890).          

Van Gogh in Drenthe

Vincent van Gogh spent almost three months in Hoogeveen, New Amsterdam - Veenoord and Zweeloo in 1883. This short period made a deep impression on him. 'I believe I have found my country', he wrote enthusiastically in a letter to his brother Theo. Van Gogh was impressed by the landscape and the hard life of the people. The peat areas in particular were his field of work. In the simple life of the peat workers and the bleak, empty landscape, he found the purity of existence he was looking for.

Featured objects

  • The peat barge
  • Peasant Burning Weeds
  • Landscape with a farm

Painters of Drenthe collection

The Drents Museum collects work by artists who painted or drew Drenthe. Important among these is the collection of works by the Hague School. This group of Dutch artists set out in the second half of the nineteenth century to depict nature outdoors, ‘en plein air’, as faithfully as possible. The masterpieces from the Painters of Drenthe sub-collection are referred to as the ‘Drenthe masters collection’. Think of Van Gogh's The peat boat and Peasant burning weeds, Jozef Israëls' The Drenthe Madonna and the Preliminary study for Bleaching on the Lawn at Zweeloo and Child under Trees by Max Liebermann.


The exhibition Barbizon of the North (2019-2020) presented the collection, and the province, in all its glory. Travelling with Vincent (2023-2024) zoomed in on Vincent van Gogh's Drenthe period in detail, with a major exhibition and publication. In the permanent collection presentation Labyrinthia, a special room is dedicated to Van Gogh and other painters of Drenthe.

Find out more about Van Gogh in Drenthe

If you want to follow in the artist's footsteps, a visit to the Van Gogh House Drenthe in Nieuw-Amsterdam - Veenoord is definitely worthwhile. All Van Gogh activities in Drenthe are bundled here. More information about Zweeloo as an artists' village can be found here. Do you want to explore the nature? The Drentse Landschap has developed unique cycling and walking routes inspired by the painters of Drenthe.

Upcoming Continuous from 20 October 2024


A magical journey of discovery through fifteen rooms of the museum. View all the masterpieces from our own collection, such as Yde's girl, Pesse's canoe and Van Gogh's paintings.