Top 10 Most Famous Dutch People

Here is a list of Dutch people who are famous all over the world. Just FYI – I’m Dutch myself, which is the main reason I chose to feature Dutch people :p.

Click the pictures to see larger versions!

10. Rutger Hauer (January 23, 1944)

Rutger Oelsen Hauer is a stage, television and film actor. His career began in 1969 with the title role in the popular Dutch television series “Floris”, directed by Paul Verhoeven. He is best known for his roles in Blade Runner (1982), Batman Begins (2005), Sin City (2005) and The Hitcher (1986). His most famous Dutch movie is Soldaat van Oranje (1977, Soldier of Orange). 

9. Doutzen Kroes (January 23, 1985)

Doutzen Kroes is a Dutch model and one of the Victoria’s Secret Angels. She started to work for the brand in 2004 and became an Angel in 2008. She is considered one of the world’s top earning supermodels. She has walked shows for among others Gucci, Valentino, Versace, Calvin Klein and she has been on the cover of many magazines, among which Time, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Avantgarde. She even has a wax figure in the Amsterdam Madame Tussaud’s.

8. M.C. Escher (17 June 1898 – 27 March 1972)

Maurits Cornelis Escher, usually called M. C. Escher was a graphic artist. He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. The special way of thinking and the rich graphic work of M.C. Escher has had a continuous influence in science and art, as well as being referenced in popular culture.

I personally am a big fan of his work.

7. Anton Corbijn (May 20, 1955)

Anton Corbijn is a photographer, music video and film director. He is the creative director behind the visual output of Depeche Mode and U2, having handled the principal promotion and sleeve photography for both for more than a decade. Corbijn has photographed David Bowie, Miles Davis, Björk, Robert de Niro, Stephen Hawking, Clint Eastwood and Roxette among many others. His best known film is Control (2007), a black and white movie about Joy Division’s singer, Ian Curtis.

6. Paul Verhoeven (July 18, 1938)

Paul Verhoeven is a film director, screenwriter, and producer who has made movies in both the Netherlands and the United States. He’s known for the explicit violence and/or sexual content and social satire in his drama and science fiction films. He is best known for directing the American movies RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), Basic Instinct (1992), Starship Troopers (1997), and Hollow Man (2000).

5. Baruch de Spinoza (November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677)

Baruch de Spinoza was a philosopher. In his greatest work, Ethics, he opposed Descartes’ mind–body dualism. This work earned him recognition as one of Western philosophy’s most important contributors. As he laid the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, he came to be considered one of the great rationalists, the only others being Socrates, René Descartes, Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant.

4. Armin van Buuren (December 25, 1976)

Armin van Buuren is a trance producer and DJ. He was voted number one in DJ Magazine’s annual top 100 list of the most popular DJs in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Van Buuren has hosted a weekly radio show called A State of Trance since 2001. He claims to have over 30 million listeners every week in more than 40 countries, which would make it the most listened radio show in the world.

This is one of his most popular songs, with (Dutch) Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel:

You can find a more recent song (with Sophie Ellis-Bextor) here.

3. Freddy Heineken (November 4, 1923 –January 3, 2002)

 Alfred Henry (Freddy) Heineken was president and major stock holder of Heineken International from 1941 to 1989. After he entered the service of the company (which by then was no longer owned by the family), he bought back stock to make sure the family controlled the company again. He created the Heineken Holding that owned 50.005% of Heineken International in which he personally held a majority stake. By the time of his resignation as chairman of the board in 1989 he had transformed Heineken from a brand that was known chiefly in the Netherlands to a brand that is still famous worldwide.

2. Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890)

Vincent Willem van Gogh was a post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art as a result of its vivid colors and emotional impact. He did not begin painting until his late twenties and he completed many of his best-known works in the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,000 artworks. Van Gogh suffered from anxiety and experienced frequent bouts of mental illness throughout his life. He died largely unknown at the age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

1. Rembrandt van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a painter and etcher. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history and the most important in Dutch history.

The Night Watch (1642) is one of his most famous works and contrary to popular belief, this work was  a success from the start. Part of the canvas was cut off (~20% from the left side) to make the painting fit its new position when it was moved to Amsterdam town hall in 1715. The painting is now in the Rijksmuseum.

I have actually seen this painting twice, and it is absolutely stunning. The level of detail is incredible! Also, it might look small on the picture below, but in reality, it is over 3m high and 4m wide (363 cm × 437 cm (142.9 in × 172.0 in)).

There are many other famous Dutch people – go here for a full list!

Who of these people did you know? Were you surprised to find some are/were Dutch?

11 thoughts on “Top 10 Most Famous Dutch People”

  1. I knew of almost all of these – but have to admit I didn’t know they were all Dutch!

    I love Escher, too.  :)

    1. Glad to hear you knew them – I think the problem indeed is no one knows they’re actually Dutch, lol! Thanks for stopping by :D 

      (Escher is awesome!)

  2. I don’t agree with your list. First of all, everybody knows Heineken as a brand, but very few know Freddy Heineken.

    Secondly, football (soccer) might not be popular in countries like the USA and Canada, but it’s extremely popular everywhere else. My dad has traveled many years ago to countries like Thailand, Singapore, Togo (Africa), Philippines and most people according to him knew all the great football stars. It’s the same story in Africa and South-America and of course in Europe of course. I had the same experience while traveling.

    Third, people like Anton Corbijn and Baruch de Spinoza are absolutely not well known in the Netherlands, let alone in the world. Mind you, I’m talking about interviewing 1,000 random people on the street and the most likely answers.

    My list is based on what I think would be the result of interviewing 10,000 random people in every continent.

    Personally I think that my list, based on years of living in the Netherlands and Canada and traveling a lot, is more accurate:

    1 Anne Frank (for this girl I gladly make the exception that she was actually born in Germany and moved to Holland at the age of 4)
    2 Rembrandt
    3 Van Gogh
    4 Cruyff

    5-9 (random order)

    Van Basten
    Van Persie

    10 Escher


    Frank Rijkaard
    Former Queen Beatrix
    Eddie van Halen (born in Nijmegen, Netherlands)
    Paul Verhoeven
    Rutger Hauer
    Van Buuren
    Doutzen Kroes
    André Rieu
    Geert Wilders
    Famke Jansen
    Alex van Halen
    Queen Juliana
    Queen Wilhelmina
    Lara Stone
    Wesley Sneijder
    Edwin van der Sar
    Ruud van Nistelrooy
    Johannes Vermeer
    Mata Hari


  3. Willemijn Verkaik should be added to this list! She’s portrayed the character Elphaba, in the hit musical Wicked in 4 countries, and in 3 languages. She’s played this character longer than anyone else.

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