Darkened varnish has taken its toll, and the true colours in Jan van Goyen’s painting are difficult to make out. The picture is almost entirely given over to a vast sky, but there’s enough movement below to capture the atmosphere of a busy autumn day on the river.
A series of diagonal lines sweeps across the picture: the net of the fisherman hauling in his catch, the sails of the boats midstream and a tall pole in the distance. A shower threatens from the grey cloud overhead, but a small patch of bright turquoise – the headscarf of a woman hunched up against the chill on board the sailing boat – enlivens the muted palette.
Across the calm waters, a square church tower is just visible. It’s thought to be the tower of the Grote Kerk in Dordrecht, a town van Goyen often depicted in his paintings.
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