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Jan Wijnants, A Landscape with a Dead Tree

Key facts
Full title A Landscape with a Dead Tree, and a Peasant driving Oxen and Sheep along a Road
Artist Jan Wijnants
Artist dates active 1643; died 1684
Date made 1659
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 80 × 99.4 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG883
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Landscape with a Dead Tree
Jan Wijnants

Jan Wijnants was from Haarlem, which lies in the narrow corridor of land between Amsterdam and the sea. He specialised in depicting the landscapes around the town, which were formed largely of sand blown inland from the North Sea beaches and into a series of sometimes spectacularly high dunes. So while this might look like a rocky landscape with a range of hills or mountains that catch the sunlight on the horizon, they are, in fact, ancient sand hills, now overgrown.

No specific location can be identified as a model for this painting, and – like many landscapes of the time – it probably represents an idealised rather than real view. The figures and animals are an important addition, helping the viewer to establish a sense of scale and depth, and also adding interest and dynamism to the scene. They were not painted by Wijnants but by a collaborator, the specialist figure painter Jan Lingelbach.

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