Date: 1652 or 1655 (?)
Materials and technics: Drawing in black lead pencil and grey wash
Dimensions: H. 17 x w. 27,2 cm
Inscriptions: Signed with the monogram and dated lower right: “VG 1652 or 1655”
Inventory number: DDUT2190
Acquisition details: Purchased using interest from the Dutuit bequest, 2010
In the first half of the 17th century Jan Van Goyen was (along with Salomon van Ruisdael) the greatest creator of “realist” Dutch landscape paintings, which he liberated from the Flemish mannerist tradition. He was also one of the most representative and prolific landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age. A productive painter and drawer, his favourite views were those of the major rivers in the Netherlands and the areas surrounding Cleves.
After his youthful work characterised by variety of colour and accumulation of detail, he reached his “classic” style around 1635-1640: a “monochrome” palette and economical and clear composition - marked by a significant lowering of the skyline - and great sensitivity in the depiction of the sky and misty effects.
This drawing displays all the artistic qualities of Van Goyen at his peak, namely in the later years of the artist’s life. The subject – an open landscape – and its treatment are emblematic of the artist and his style.
It displays an interesting variation on the theme of the winding sandy path which leads the gaze diagonally towards the background.
The graphic expression has become extremely free and the artist uses all the resources of his favourite technique, black chalk, which produces a slightly soft and oily line, with consummate skill. The use of the wash technique helps position the different fields of the work, by skilfully alternating dark and light layers.
The scene is lively and interesting although the subject is very mundane: a cart carrying fishermen is returning from the river while on the bank two herdsmen are taking care of their beasts. A view of the sea, in the background to the left, and a windmill complete this typically Dutch landscape.
S. R. de B.
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