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Meindert Hobbema, A Woody Landscape with a Cottage

Key facts
Full title A Woody Landscape with a Cottage
Artist Meindert Hobbema
Artist dates 1638 - 1709
Date made about 1665
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 99.5 × 130.5 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG995
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Chimei Museum, Tainan City, Taiwan
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Woody Landscape with a Cottage
Meindert Hobbema

A rutted cart track leads straight into the middle of the picture. A group of figures are caught in a patch of sunlight while a cottage merges into the shadows. A frieze of trees stands out against a sunny glade and a cloudy sky beyond. Many of Hobbema’s landscapes were composed around these specific elements. The vast majority were almost certainly not real views, but studio paintings designed to evoke the woodlands around Haarlem near his home town of Amsterdam.

This painting is an archetypal example of Hobbema’s picturesque, positive evocation of country life, with his harmonious view of the world subtly underlined in the composition itself. The painting is full of curves and meanders; even the strong diagonals of the cottage roofline are softened by the surrounding foliage. There is balance too – the canopy of the tallest tree is reflected by the shape of the cloud next to it, and the three figures in the foreground form a neat symmetrical group, right on the centre line of the painting.

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