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Meindert Hobbema, A Woody Landscape

Key facts
Full title A Woody Landscape
Artist Meindert Hobbema
Artist dates 1638 - 1709
Date made about 1665
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 60.4 × 84.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1862
Inventory number NG685
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Woody Landscape
Meindert Hobbema

Hobbema specialised in landscapes which present a positive, even idealised, evocation of carefree country life, where the trees are always heavy with summer leaf, the tracks are dry and there is only a gentle breeze in the air.

This didn’t necessarily reflect day-to-day realities. Woodland of this kind was not a backdrop to an idyllic pastoral life, but an important economic resource, a place to graze animals and harvest timber. Yet the figures we see in this landscape are not hard at work trying to make a living – they are going about life in a very relaxed fashion. A fisherman sits quietly on the bank; a woman stands idly in the cottage doorway, while others stroll along the track.

Though the overwhelming atmosphere is one of a peaceful summer’s day, there are subtle hints of nature’s destructive side. The tree stump in the foreground has obviously been fractured only recently, presumably by strong winds.

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