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Jan van Goyen, A Windmill by a River

Key facts
Full title A Windmill by a River
Artist Jan van Goyen
Artist dates 1596 - 1656
Date made 1642
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 29.4 × 36.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2578
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Windmill by a River
Jan van Goyen

Jan van Goyen’s painting – his view of the wide sweep of the Netherlandish landscape – is a poetic vision. Seen from a sandy rising, the horizon is low and the sky vast. Just a few birds wheel in the towering clouds.

Van Goyen was very influential in the development of the ‘tonal phase’ of Dutch painting, in which tones of the same shade rather than a mixture of colours were used to achieve an effect or atmosphere. He made many exquisite drawings of the countryside. Later, in his studio, he used them to paint pictures so evocative and atmospheric that they‘re seemingly ’emotion remembered in tranquillity' – which is how William Wordsworth, the English poet, described poetry.

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