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Many Dutch living abroad become somewhat out of touch with who’s “hot & happening” in the Netherlands. But, who can blame them when most BN-ers (short for “Bekende Nederlanders”, which means “Dutch Celebrities”), enjoy only a fleeting moment of fame before disappearing back into oblivion? There is, however, a select group of distinguished Dutch men and women that’s made a far more permanent impression on Dutch history, and as such, enjoys considerable international fame. Below is a list of the top 5 most famous Dutch people of all time.
1.Vincent van Gogh
Nineteenth-century post-impressionist painter, Vincent van Gogh, was born in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, yet spent a large part of his life in southern France, where he created countless drawings and colourful paintings. Unfortunately, his work was not fully appreciated in those days and he only sold one painting during his entire lifetime. Today the largest collection of Vincent van Gogh paintings and drawings is housed in the celebrated Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
2. Anne Frank
This young German national moved to Amsterdam in the 1930’s, where she subsequently began keeping a diary. Her carefree childhood was shattered after the outbreak of World War II forced her and her family into hiding, in a desperate bid to evade the Nazi concentration camps. Throughout this prolonged period in the Secret Annexe, which lasted more two years, she faithfully updated her diary. Although Anne Frank didn’t survive the war, her diary was thankfully preserved and is now read all over the world.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, as this famous Dutch master from the 17th century was called, made a total of approximately three hundred paintings, three hundred etchings and two thousand drawings during his lifetime. Many are now exhibited across the globe, whilst his best-known painting, De Nachtwacht (The Night Watch), hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam where it is admired by around one million visitors every year.
4. Johan Cruijff
This world famous footballer and football coach has won the prestigious Ballon d’Or a remarkable three times and was named Best European Footballer of the Twentieth Century by the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics). During his dazzling career Cruijff played for a variety of top clubs, including Ajax, Feyenoord and Barcelona, and participated in both the 1974 World Cup and 1976 European Cup.
5. Willem van Oranje
Willem van Oranje (William of Orange), also known as ‘Vader des Vaderlands’ (Father of the Fatherland), led the Dutch rebellion against Spanish occupation in 1579. In 1581 he founded the ‘Republiek der Zeven Nederlanden’, which was internationally recognised in 1609 and marked the birth of the modern Dutch nation. William of Orange’s motto was “Je maintiendrai” (“I will maintain”) – to this day it can still be found on the Dutch coat of arms.
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants.