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Philips Wouwerman, A Dune Landscape with a River and Many Figures

Key facts
Full title A Dune Landscape with a River and Many Figures
Artist Philips Wouwerman
Artist dates 1619 - 1668
Date made probably 1660-68
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 23.5 × 30.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG882
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Dune Landscape with a River and Many Figures
Philips Wouwerman

Wouwerman’s small painting of the Dutch landscape is full of incident: everywhere are little stories to tell, details to pick out. The landscape in the distance seems empty but nearer to us people enliven the scene. Two horsemen studiously ignore the beggars who approach them. They‘re followed by a shadowy figure holding a sword and beyond, a man with a huge pack, perhaps a pedlar. Is the figure coming down the dune with a rabbit dangling from his stick a poacher or gamekeeper? A grand coach passes while men fish or shoot at birds.

Most intriguing is the yacht on the left sailing serenely on the river. It appears to have a coat of arms on the stern – perhaps it’s making for the imposing house beyond the trees. But the man sailing it doesn’t appear to have noticed the low-arched bridge, and even with the sail and mast lowered the boat’s journey seems ill-fated.

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