This part of our presentation is focused on Dutch Golden Age landscape and seascape painting. A period in Dutch history generally spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence. At that time, the Dutch republic was one of Europe’s most prominent states. It strength was manifest not only in politics and economics but also in the arts and sciences at Europe.
Land, sea and sky paintings of the 17 century:
Landscape painting was a major genre in the 17th century.
The Dutch landscape is actually firmly rooted in 16th century Flemish landscape painting. These had been not particularly realistic, having been painted mostly in the studio, partly from imagination, and often still using the semi-aerial view from above typical of earlier Netherlandish landscape painting. A more realistic Dutch landscape style developed, seen from ground level, often based on drawings made outdoors, with lower horizons which made it possible to emphasize the often impressive cloud formations that were (and are) so typical in the climate of the region, and which cast a particular light. Favorite subjects were the dunes along the western sea coast, rivers with their broad adjoining meadows where cattle grazed, often with the silhouette of a city in the distance. Winter landscapes with frozen canals and creeks also abounded. The sea was a favorite topic as well since the Holland depended on it for trade, battled with it for new land, and battled on it with competing nations. A different type of landscape, produced throughout the tonal and classical phases, was the romantic Italianate landscape, typically in more mountainous settings than are found in the Netherlands, with golden light, and sometimes picturesque Mediterranean staff age and ruins.
An extensive Landscape with a road by a ruin
1655.Oil on canvas, 137.4x167.3cm London, National Gallery.
Koninck’s landscapes are characterized by a high viewpoint and a sky which occupies at least half of the picture space. They are cloudscapes as much as extensive landscapes. He emphasizes the flatness of Holland, a more realistic approach than, for example, that of Aelbert Cuyp, who attempts to make his landscapes more varied by the inclusion of hills and mountains taken from his imagination rather than from his observation of the Dutch countryside. The landscape with a high sky was particularly in favor in the 1650s and 1660s, not just in the work of Koninck, but also in that of Jacob van Ruisdael and also in the etched landscape of Rembrandt.
Jacob van Ruisdael (c.1628-82)
View of Haarlem from the Northwest
c.1670. Oil canvas, 43x38 cm
Like Koninck, he adopts a high viewpoint, devoting more than half the canvas to a cloud-filled sky. Ruisdael was the first painter to render dutch landscape in this manner. In this bird’s-eye view, the bleaching fields near Haarlem are seen from the dunes in the Northwest. The city in the distance is easily recognizable, its profile dominated by the characteristic tower if the church of St.Bavo in the centre, silhouetted against a mass of clouds. In the area around Haarlem, laundries were a familiar sight, places where hundreds of pieces of linen lay in the water and on the grass. To a large extent the prosperity of the city depended on the textile industry in general, and the bleaching fields in particular. In the first half of the seventh century, about a thousand worker s were employed in the bleaching industry, and the product of their labors was universally acclaimed for it whiteness. This painting is an excellent example of the manner in which landscapes painters in the republic were inspired by their surroundings. Jacobs was a native of Haarlem, and in the 1670, he painted at least fifteen similar panoramic view of his native city, which seventeenth-century inventories referred to as “Haerlempjes” This work...
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