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Jan Wijnants, A Landscape with Two Dead Trees

Key facts
Full title A Landscape with Two Dead Trees, and Two Sportsmen with Dogs on a Sandy Road
Artist Jan Wijnants
Artist dates active 1643; died 1684
Date made probably 1665-75
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 29 × 36.8 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG972
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Landscape with Two Dead Trees
Jan Wijnants

This is a landscape full of sunshine, energy and life. The strong sweeping curve of the track dominates the middle of the picture. Two greyhounds bound along while a horseman and his companion chat easily as they go, and in the distance a pedlar with his pack ambles along behind them. The woodland to the right is in full summer leaf and the tree canopies seem to billow upwards like the cumulus clouds which bloom in the luminous sky.

But up front, filling more than a third of the canvas, are the dramatic outlines of two blasted trees. The nearer one is thrust towards us, its limbs fallen, a few dead branches like sharp fracture lines across the sky. It is a visual device, framing the composition and creating a greater sense of depth to the landscape. But it is also a reminder of mortality and the transience of life, in this otherwise idyllic country view.

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