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Philips Wouwerman, A Stream in the Dunes, with Two Bathers

Key facts
Full title A Stream in the Dunes, with Two Bathers
Artist Philips Wouwerman
Artist dates 1619 - 1668
Date made 1650-68
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 27 × 35.5 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG973
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Stream in the Dunes, with Two Bathers
Philips Wouwerman

Far from the soft, rolling sand dunes at many seaside places, those in Wouwerman’s painting are craggy with rocks here and there. The stark outline of the broken fence against the sky seems forbidding, and the house up on the left bank, gable end facing us, seems to shut us out.

Individual parts of the painting listed in this way might make it seem unappealing, but the warm yellows of the softer sand between the rocks and the sensation of the clouds moving away to reveal the dawn light save it from being bleak and uninviting. The two small figures in the water give the picture a playful air that is rare in Wouwerman’s dune paintings.

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