The painting shows the village and church of Middelharnis in the province of South Holland. The view is remarkably accurate and has hardly changed since the 17th century. Hobbema's design with the avenue of trees receding towards the centre of the picture is simple yet at the same time majestic. The trees are employed to mark the quick recession from foreground to background while the expanse of sky is emphasised by the upward-pointing trees. Unfortunately the paint of the sky was damaged by cleaning some time in the 19th century; the billowing cloud to the right is the best preserved section.

Before 1660, Hobbema had been the pupil of Jacob van Ruisdael. However, by 1689 Hobbema was not painting for a living anymore. In 1668 he had obtained a well-paid job with the wine-importers' association of Amsterdam, and from then on seems to have painted only occasionally. The present painting is one of only a handful of pictures from this period.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1638 - 1709
Full title
The Avenue at Middelharnis
Date made
1689
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
103.5 x 141 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1871
Inventory number
NG830
Location in Gallery