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Meindert Hobbema, The Watermills at Singraven near Denekamp

Key facts
Full title The Watermills at Singraven near Denekamp
Artist Meindert Hobbema
Artist dates 1638 - 1709
Date made probably 1665-70
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 60 × 84.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG832
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Watermills at Singraven near Denekamp
Meindert Hobbema

The watermills depicted here still survive today – they are part of the former estate at Singraven, near Denekamp, one of the most easterly points of Holland. Hobbema seems to have been inspired to paint them because his teacher, Jacob van Ruisdael, had depicted the mills on several occasions.

While van Ruisdael was fascinated by the raw power of the water thundering through the sluices, Hobbema’s is a more tranquil vision, seen from upstream where the water is almost mirror still. Sunlight dapples the meadows and a man fishes quietly in the mill pond. But there is also plenty of energy in the painting. The leaves are composed of myriad dabbed brushstrokes, while longer, broader, sometimes swirling strokes are used for the blues and greys of the sky – short sweeps of the brush which evoke the breeze that rustles the leaves and lifts the birds wheeling above the treetops.

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