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Jan Both, 'A Rocky Landscape with an Ox-cart', about 1640-5

Key facts
Full title A Rocky Landscape with an Ox-cart
Artist Jan Both
Artist dates about 1615 - 1652
Date made about 1640-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 120.5 × 160.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lord Cheylesmore, 1902
Inventory number NG1917
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Rocky Landscape with an Ox-cart
Jan Both

A shaft of light from the low sun seems to point the way forward for the ox cart between the craggy cliffs. Long-haired goats chew on the brittle leaves of scrubby plants, but there’s lush greenery on the distant hillside above the lake. The cart is laden with household goods resting on straw, suggesting either that the driver is moving house or, more likely, that he’s a travelling trader.

During Jan Both’s three-year stay in Rome he befriended Claude, the great French landscape painter. Claude’s style influenced the young Both, which can be seen in this picture: a gold evening or early morning light, deep shadow in the foreground and a misty distance, hidden castles and towers, and slender birch trees with a fine tracery of leaves against the sky.

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