Meindert Hobbema specialised in landscapes, and particularly woodland scenes such as this. They were not usually modelled on real views, but were composed to capture the atmosphere and harmonies of woodland life. Here the three cottages seem to merge into the underwood. Switches cut from a nearby coppice form a stand in the left foreground, while the rough grey boards on the right are part of an old fence slowly being reclaimed by the woods.
Hobbema often used the device of a winding track to give a sense of depth to a scene. Here, the dark rutted curves lead our eye under the tree, past the red-brick cottage and into the sunny glade beyond. And the illusion of distance is emphasised by the figures, from the two men chatting in the foreground to the tiny walker in a blue coat on the other side of the glade. In fact this is quite a busy scene – there are ten figures scattered among the trees.
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