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Joris van der Haagen, A River Landscape

Key facts
Full title A River Landscape
Artist Joris van der Haagen
Artist dates about 1615 - 1669
Date made probably about 1650-60
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 109 × 129 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Jewer Henry Jewer, 1873
Inventory number NG901
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A River Landscape
Joris van der Haagen

A quiet river meanders through thinly wooded countryside towards a distant, misty horizon, almost shielded from view by a low hill. The clear water catches the cool evening light, and the gnarled trunks of the trees give a sense of age and permanence. But overhead, the leaves are turning brown as autumn brings inevitable change.

Dutch landscapes of the mid-seventeenth century were largely divided into two styles. One was favoured by artists who had been to Italy: their work is suffused in a soft, gold light and a feeling of warmth and serenity. The other – including van der Haagen’s work – was more concerned with the cooler, northern light of the Dutch Republic and its native flora and scenery.

To us, the sense of distance and calm is perhaps restful. In its time, A River Landscape would also have been a thoroughly modern picture, showing a freshness and immediacy that not long before would have been quite unusual in the practice of landscape painting.

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