Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cuyp, Aelbert

Landscape near Rhenen
oil on canvas
170 x 229 cm
Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Aelbert Jacobsz Cuyp (1620 - 1691) was one of the leading Dutch landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. He is especially known for his large views of the Dutch countryside in early morning or late afternoon light. He was born in Dordrecht. He came from a family of artists; his grandfather and uncle were glass stainers and his father was a portraitist. He studied art with his father. Upon the death of his parents, he inherited a considerable fortune and a few years later, he married a widow who was a member of a patrician family.

Cuyp, who painted still lives, animals, portraits, and landscapes, worked in two distinct styles. Between 1639 and 1645 he painted naturalistic, diagonal compositions that show a good sense of space and an almost monochromatic yellowish-gray color. His more individualistic style, most evident in his work from the period between 1650 and 1670, is considered his best. His paintings are sunny and lively in atmosphere, profound in tonalities, simple in outline, well-balanced in composition, and notable for the large, rich foreground masses. Although his palette tends largely to yellow, pinkish red, warm browns, and olive green rather than blue and silver grey, he is considered a forerunner of Vermeer in his handling of light.

He was active in civic and religious affairs in Dordrecht throughout his life, becoming a deacon of the Reformed Community, an elder of the Church Council, and a member of the Tribunal of Eight for the Southern Provinces.