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Jan van Goyen, 'A River Landscape', 1645

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

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