Slant of Light: Dutch and Flemish Old Masters

Check out our last webinar on Dutch and Flemish Old Masters

Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul

The glint of light in an eye, breakfast on the table, clouds gathering over fields—Dutch and Flemish master painters transformed everyday scenes into something lasting and beautiful. Step back into early modern Amsterdam with Rembrandt, Vermeer, Judith Leyster, Jacob van Ruisdael and others. Through guided museum visits, seminar discussions and walks among the city’s gabled roofs and shimmering canals, understand how these artists used light, colour and texture to capture their world.

It was a world of innovation and thriving trade, of fortunes built on shipbuilding, fishing, textiles and porcelain. Amsterdam was a cosmopolitan centre infused with a spirit of pluralism, a city populated by communities of Huguenots, Jews, and free Black citizens. Yet it was a world bound to the slave trade and colonial empire. How did Dutch painters see and understand the energy, complexity and contradictions around them?

Art nouveau staircase designed by Victor Horta
Art nouveau staircase, Horta

The 17th century, often called the Golden Age, will be at the centre of our tour. We’ll explore its roots in the Renaissance painters of the court of Burgundy, which included much of the Netherlands and Belgium. The meticulous realism and brilliant colour of Jan van Eyck’s painting parallels the gothic architecture we’ll see in Ghent, Bruges and Brussels. We’ll explore these intricate masterpieces as well as the more visionary, even surreal, painting of Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Hieronymus Bosch. Finally, we’ll follow the thread forward to modern masters, exploring how Rembrandt’s uncompromising realism influenced Vincent van Gogh and how gothic interest in natural forms was echoed by Victor Horta and art nouveau.

The many major exhibits on 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painting in recent years show this art still resonates. What does it say to you? Find out on this Classical Pursuits tour that combines expert guidance with ample free time to enjoy the picturesque streets and squares and multicultural atmosphere of four dynamic northern European cities.

Ready to Book?

To learn more or book your spot, email Natalie at or call toll-free 1-800-387-1483.

“Sean was a great leader both in terms of developing the content of the trip and in attention to the daily logistics, especially in attending to individual needs within the group.”
— Eric, 2023 tour participant

Canal in Bruges
Canal in Bruges

Image credits: Art nouveau staircase, Henry Townsend on Wikipedia; canal in Bruges, Poposky on Pixabay


Get a detailed itinerary

Amsterdam and Ghent, Netherlands; Brussels and Bruges, Belgium

April 9–18, 2024

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith; introductions to Rembrandt and Vermeer; selected poetry

Sean Forester is an artist and lecturer from the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied classical painting at the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy, where he was director of art history, humanities and composition. He teaches at the Golden Gate Atelier. Sean has a BA from The Great Books Program at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, and an MA from Cambridge University. He has led Classical Pursuits/Worldwide Quest trips to Paris, Florence, Venice, and Russia.

Park Centraal Amsterdam; Hotel NH Belfort Ghent

12 to 16 participants

Single supplement US$1250

Cost includes guides, readings, accommodation in double occupancy, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, admissions, and taxes and gratuities.

Back to Travel Pursuits Main Page

Ask a Question


Travel Pursuits 2024