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Meindert Hobbema, The Avenue at Middelharnis

Key facts
Full title The Avenue at Middelharnis
Artist Meindert Hobbema
Artist dates 1638 - 1709
Date made 1689
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 103.5 × 141 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG830
Location Room 19
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Avenue at Middelharnis
Meindert Hobbema

Hobbema has created a remarkable effect in this unusual painting, using the trees of the avenue to funnel our view directly into the heart of the picture and as strong verticals to take the eye upwards. Our gaze is also drawn sideways into the landscape, through both the track which turns off to the right and the strong lateral lines of the paths and fields on the left. It’s as though there is a three-dimensional grid – an invisible geometry – underlying the whole painting.

The composition proved to be a powerful influence on later artists. It was admired by Van Gogh, who emulated its effects in several paintings after he first saw it in the National Gallery in 1884, and it probably also inspired Camille Pissarro’s The Avenue, Sydenham. David Hockney even made his own version in 2017, Tall Dutch Trees After Hobbema (Useful Knowledge).

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