Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jan van Goyen - A Windmill by a River [1642]

Although it was probably painted in The Hague, this is an outstanding example of the 'tonal phase' of Dutch landscape painting associated with the town of Haarlem. Van Goyen shows a flat landscape, featureless except for the windmill, small figures and distant buildings, as if from the top of a low hill. The sky occupies three-quarters of the picture space in this panoramic view; it is painted in a deliberately restricted palette of grey, brown, black and white enlivened only by a few strokes of yellow and green. The low horizon gives great prominence to the sky and clouds.

Jan Josephsz. van Goyen (1596 - 1656) was one of the main pioneers of naturalistic landscape in early 17th-century Holland. His many drawings show that he travelled extensively in Holland and beyond. In 1634 he is recorded painting in Haarlem, in the house of Isaac, the brother of Salomon van Ruysdael, who was another of the pioneers of realistic landscape painting in the north Netherlands.

[Oil on oak, 29.4 x 36.3 cm]

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