The Water Mills
Along with his master Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/1629 - 1682), Hobbema was one of the main ambassadors of Dutch landscape painting in the 17th century, which ushered in a real revolution in the way nature was represented.
The Dutch looked at nature in a new way, without neglecting its most humble aspects, and the human figure, absent or depicted in everyday life, blends in totally with the landscape.
The water mill motif, in which some saw an evocation of human destiny and a representation of the ingenuity that humankind showed in the 17th century, featured prominently in Dutch painting during this time. Hobbema practically made it his speciality.
The painting at the Petit Palais, which dates from the artist’s period of maturity between 1664 and 1668, was very famous in the 19th century, often being used as a reference to the paintings of this series.
The whole composition is very open and is focussed on the mill, with its red roof standing ut against the blue sky dotted with white clouds.