Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jan van Goyen

Landscape with two oaks
oil on canvas
88.5 x 110.5 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), Dutch painter, was one of the foremost pioneers of realistic landscape painting in the Netherlands. He was one of the first painters to capture the quality of the light and air in a scene and to suggest the movement of clouds. He created a distinctive type of monochrome landscape in browns and greys with touches of vivid blue or red to catch the eye. His many drawings show that he travelled extensively in Holland and beyond. Most of his paintings seem to be based on drawings made as he travelled about the countryside, and he evidently used the same drawings again and again because the same themes and motifs recur repeatedly in his works. Some 1,200 paintings and 800 drawings are known. His finest work has a sense of poetic calm as well as great freshness and luminosity of atmosphere.

Van Goyen the son of a shoemaker was born at Leiden, and trained in Haarlem. After returning to Leiden he moved to The Hague in 1631, where he chiefly worked until his death. He was hugely prolific and had many pupils and imitators. His daughter married his pupil Jan Steen, the famous painter of genre scenes, in 1649. Despite his other career as a picture dealer, he constantly had financial difficulties and died insolvent because he kept speculating in land, houses, and tulip bulbs.