An Insider’s Guide to Sotheby’s Amsterdam

An Insider’s Guide to Sotheby’s Amsterdam

On the occasion of Amsterdam’s 750th anniversary this year, another important birthday is being celebrated in the Netherlands – Sotheby’s 50th year in the Dutch capital. To mark this significant milestone, Sotheby’s Amsterdam’s Managing Director Sarah de Clercq welcomes us to her home city with her favourite things to do and places to see around this historical, canal-crossed city.
On the occasion of Amsterdam’s 750th anniversary this year, another important birthday is being celebrated in the Netherlands – Sotheby’s 50th year in the Dutch capital. To mark this significant milestone, Sotheby’s Amsterdam’s Managing Director Sarah de Clercq welcomes us to her home city with her favourite things to do and places to see around this historical, canal-crossed city.

Sarah de Clercq: Me and Amsterdam

Sarah Declerq, Managing Director, Sotheby's Amsterdam
Sarah Declerq, Managing Director, Sotheby's Amsterdam

A msterdam is a cultural and diverse city, with one of the most important historical centres in the world. It’s small (everything is a 15-minute bike ride away), has a strong international buzz - and there is plenty on offer for art lovers.

Amsterdam is known for its character and history, with a network of canals, old bridges and beautiful 17th century canalside merchant houses where artists like Rembrandt van Rijn used to live. Behind these houses, you will often find the most magnificent gardens – and as a garden lover, I love to sit there and escape from the bustling city life. They’re real hidden gems, silent oases in the midst of the most amazing architecture.

Even though I have been living in Amsterdam for over 25 years, I can still spend hours strolling around the old town with cozy cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops, all famously criss-crossed by canals. In fact, taking a boat trip along the city’s world-famous waterways is the most beautiful way to discover Amsterdam. The picturesque Canal District was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, earning Amsterdam the status of a bona fide open-air museum.

Amsterdam also boasts one of the densest concentrations of museums in the world. At the Museumplein, you can find three of the city’s most famous museums: the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum of Contemporary Art. For art lovers there is plenty to see, from museum blockbusters, must-see gallery exhibitions and a very creative art scene, to important art fairs like Art Rotterdam in spring in Rotterdam, following TEFAF in March in Maastricht and the PAN fair in October in Amsterdam.

Sotheby's Amsterdam, Emmalaan
Sotheby's Amsterdam, Emmalaan

Celebrating 50 Years of Sotheby's Amsterdam in 'Highlights of Dutch Art'

This year, as we celebrate Amsterdam’s 750th anniversary, we are also marking Sotheby’s Amsterdam’s golden jubilee. Amidst the museums and galleries, not far from Museumplein, is Sotheby's Amsterdam (Emmalaan 23) where, for 50 years, Sotheby's has been at the heart of the Dutch art world. Formerly a sales location, responsible for selling numerous important collections and artworks, today the Amsterdam team focus on maintaining warm relationships with their clients as well as sourcing masterpieces for private sales or for international auction locations.

One of the highlights of our 50th anniversary year is our sales exhibition, Highlights of Dutch Art, which runs to 28 June. During this time at our offices, we are presenting a special selection of Dutch artworks from private collections, ranging from the 17th century Masters to contemporary artists.

Among the absolute masterpieces is a monumental winter landscape from 1842 by Barend Cornelis Koekkoek, an early work titled The Rose Garden by Carel Willink from 1928, and an exciting piece titled Whirling Landscape by the female artist Lou Loeber. Additionally, there will be paintings on display by Bosschaert, De Vlieger, Louis Apol, Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Cornelis Springer, Karel Appel, Alma Tadema, Escher, and many others. For a complete overview, see our homepage here.

'We often show exhibitions of rare and beautiful art and our friendly team would be happy to not only discuss the local and international art scene with you but also share personal recommendations for things to see and places to go'

So, if you're in Amsterdam, don't forget to visit Sotheby's office! We often show exhibitions of rare and beautiful art and our friendly team would be happy to not only discuss the local and international art scene with you but also share personal recommendations for things to see and places to go, in and around Amsterdam. And in this Insider’s Guide to Amsterdam, I’ll begin, by sharing my own. I hope you enjoy discovering all about my beautiful home city.

HOTEL: De Durgerdam

Der Durgerdam (Photograph by Chantal Arnts)

Just a stone’s throw from Amsterdam, nestled in the quaint old village of Durgerdam, lies De Durgerdam, a truly hidden gem. This luxury boutique hotel boasts 14 exquisitely-designed bedrooms and suites, offering a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Immerse yourself in the charm of the surrounding architecture, or gaze at the tranquillity of sailboats gently bobbing on the water.
One of my favourite weekend pastimes is strolling along the picturesque lakefront. En route, you'll encounter enchanting rows of fisherman’s houses, traditionally painted in milky white and nautical colours. As the day draws to a close, I like to unwind on the terrace of the hotel's lakeside restaurant, De Mark, where art lovers should step inside and admire the impressive artworks adorning the walls. Try it - I promise you won’t regret it.
De Durgerdam

HOTEL: Conservatorium Hotel

Conservatorium Hotel Amsterdam
The Conservatorium Hotel (Courtesy The Conservatorium Hotel)

Situated on Museumplein, the beautiful Conservatorium Hotel building was originally a post office, before becoming the Amsterdam Conservatory, and now, a luxury hotel. Having undergone a thorough, yet sensitive renovation, I love the newly-added architecture - it’s spectacular. The hotel is also handy for the Vondelpark around the corner, where many Amsterdammers like to get some fresh air and take a walk.
Conservatorium Hotel

MUSIC: Concertgebouw

Concertgebouw Amsterdam music theatre
The Concertgebouw (Photograph by Eduardus Lee)

The Concertgebouw is one of the world's most important concert halls and a place I frequently visit. Music lovers say that this hall boasts unparalleled acoustics, and you can decide that for yourself by attending a performance by the Concertgebouw’s resident orchestra, generally considered to be one of the best orchestras in the world. And not only does The Concertgebouw excel musically, but the building’s beautiful, classical 19th century architecture is also captivating.
The Concertgebouw

ART: Huis Willet-Holthuysen

 Willet-Holthuysen House, Amsterdam
Willet-Holthuysen House, Amsterdam (Image courtesy Willet-Holthuysen House)

Huis Willet-Holthuysen is a 17th century canal house, located on the prestigious Herengracht. In 1895, the former resident Louisa Willet bequeathed the house to her beloved city of Amsterdam so that everyone could enjoy it. The interior spaces are decorated in assorted historical styles, so one can find many remarkable paintings and applied arts here. An additional recommendation is to take a look at the French-style garden, where you can take a moment to breathe amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
Huis Willet-Holthuysen

50 Years Of Sotheby's in the Netherlands

EAT: Restaurant Zoldering

Restaurant Zoldering (Image courtesy Restaurant Zoldering)

Restaurant Zoldering is one of Amsterdam's absolute highlights when it comes to wine, with an extensive wine list packed with delicious surprises and delights. Naturally, they serve delicious snacks too. Whether you decide on just the one small drink or a lavish dinner, this is a stylish and hospitable restaurant, located in one of Amsterdam's coziest streets.
Restaurant Zoldering


RIJKS restaurant dining Amsterdam
RIJKS (Photograph © Chantal Arnts)

RIJKS Restaurant is situated in a truly breathtaking setting, within the illustrious Rijksmuseum, home to an iconic collection showcasing Dutch national history. To make the most of your visit, I recommend starting your day with an early morning exploration of the museum, allowing you to avoid the crowds. Afterwards, indulge in a leisurely afternoon at RIJKS, where you can savour a delightful long lunch. Together with chefs Yascha Oosterberg and Friso van Amerongen, RIJKS executive chef Joris Bijdendijk promotes the Low Countries’ cuisine, which is firmly rooted in Dutch produce – in all its modest glory. Following an extensive renovation, RIJKS has emerged with a refreshed interior design and an enticing new menu, ensuring a memorable dining experience. Be sure to sample their special lunch menu, thoughtfully inspired by the works of Frans Hals.

EAT: Restaurant De Kas

Restaurant De Kas Amsterdam
Restaurant De Kas (Photograph Rinze Vegelien)

Restaurant De Kas is an ecological restaurant, located in the beautiful Park Frankendael. The restaurant boasts its own gardens and greenhouses, where they cultivate over 300 ingredients. The harvested ingredients often end up on the guests plates the same day. The tables are set in a beautifully-designed greenhouse, which means you can enjoy your locally-sourced meal in a gorgeous setting.
Restaurant De Kas

SHOPPING: Noordermarkt

Noordermarkt Amsterdam
Noordermarkt, Amsterdam (Koen Smilde)

Meet the locals doing their weekend grocery shopping at this picturesque organic market. Nestled at the foot of the Noorderkerk, on one of the city's most charming squares, the Noordermarkt takes place each Saturday. Once your shopping is done, take a seat at any of the terraces surrounding the square and indulge in some leisurely people-watching.

DRINK: De Wetering

A visit to Amsterdam wouldn't be complete without stepping into a traditional 'brown bar'. My personal favorite is De Wetering, situated just beyond the Canals. With its cozy atmosphere, open fireplace upstairs, and the welcoming staff, this neighbourhood bar epitomises the essence of 'gezellig' (conviviality).
De Wetering

ART: Breitner at Singer Laren

Singer Laren Museum Amsterdam
Singer Laren Museum (Image courtesy Singer Laren Museum)

As a specialist in Impressionist and Modern art, I am particularly excited about this George Hendrik Breitner (1857 – 1923) exhibition, hosted at Singer Laren. Situated in the charming artist’s village of Laren, this museum was founded by the American collectors Anna and William Singer and opened to the public in 1956. It’s just 30 minutes outside Amsterdam and is definitely a destination worth visiting.

The Breitner exhibition offers a fresh perspective on the artist's work, showcasing over 70 paintings and works on paper that illuminate his artistic development in a new light. What sets this exhibition apart is Singer Laren’s innovative approach of combining well-known favourites, such as the ‘Kimono’ girl paintings, with lesser-known works, in all, offering a comprehensive view of Breitner's oeuvre. Moreover, some of the pieces on display have not been seen in the Netherlands for decades, adding a sense of rarity and discovery to the viewing experience.
Singer Laren

ART: Marina Abramovíc at the Stedelijk Museum

Marina Abramovíc

Running until mid-July, don’t miss this exciting event: the Stedelijk Museum is holding the biggest Marina Abramovíc retrospective we have ever had here in the Netherlands. What more is there to be said about this icon of our times? If you are lucky enough to the chance, take the opportunity to immerse yourself in Marina’s extraordinary world, with work from the past five decades on display, and of course, re-enactments of some of her most historic performance pieces.
(Until July 14)
Stedelijk Museum

ART: Matthew Wong at the Van Gogh Museum

Matthew Wong The Kingdom (2017) (© 2023 Matthew Wong Foundation / c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2023, private collection)

This summer, the Van Gogh Museum is holding a retrospective by the late Chinese-Canadian contemporary painter, Matthew Wong (1984 – 2019). Although this talented artist lived over 100 years after Van Gogh, many fascinating parallels can be drawn between Van Gogh and Wong’s life and work - especially as both artists struggled with mental health issues and sought solace in painting. This exhibition offers an intense comparative insights into the lives of these two different yet intriguingly similar artists, via Wong’s beautiful, colourful paintings. I highly recommend booking online and well in advance.
The Van Gogh Museum

ART: Frans Hals at the Rijksmuseum

Frans Hals, Portrait of a Man (c.1635) Rijksmuseum (Courtesy Rijksmuseum)

Frans Hals is considered one of the most important old masters of the 17th century, a time when Dutch painting flourished. His loose, playful painting style was highly innovative, and consequently, Hals inspired generations of followers. This unique exhibition showcases about 50 of the most spectacular works from his oeuvre.
The Rijksmuseum


About the Author

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top