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A River Landscape
Jan van Goyen

Time has not been kind to Jan van Goyen’s river landscape, and his soft muted colours have been dimmed under a coat of yellowed varnish. But we sense the tranquillity of the scene – the vast sky, the quiet ripple of the water under the small boat heading upriver and the patient cows cropping the grass close to us.

Passengers settle on the insubstantial-looking craft moored on the far bank, apparently unconcerned by the heavy wagon pulled by two horses on board. The little village between the trees seems to be a jumble of rooftops huddled together, culminating in the spire of the church piercing the clouds.

We don’t know if the painting depicts a particular Dutch village. It hasn’t been identified, but it is one of several versions of the same view painted by van Goyen during his career.

Key facts
Artist Jan van Goyen
Artist dates 1596 - 1656
Full title A River Landscape
Date made 1645
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 66 x 96.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs S.F. Hodges, 1852
Inventory number NG151
Location in Gallery Not on display
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