Although it was probably painted in The Hague, this is an outstanding example of the 'tonal phase' of Dutch landscape painting associated with the town of Haarlem. Van Goyen shows a flat landscape, featureless except for the windmill, small figures and distant buildings, as if from the top of a low hill. The sky occupies three-quarters of the picture space in this panoramic view; it is painted in a deliberately restricted palette of grey, brown, black and white enlivened only by a few strokes of yellow and green. The low horizon gives great prominence to the sky and clouds.

Key facts

Artist dates
1596 - 1656
Full title
A Windmill by a River
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on oak
29.4 x 36.3 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit
Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number
Location in Gallery