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Probably by Jan van Goyen, A Cottage on a Heath

Key facts
Full title A Cottage on a Heath
Artist Probably by Jan van Goyen
Artist dates 1596 - 1656
Date made about 1629
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 39.7 × 60.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lt.-Col. J.H. Ollney, 1837
Inventory number NG137
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Cottage on a Heath
Probably by Jan van Goyen

In some paintings a vast, empty landscape might evoke feelings of loneliness or even melancholy, but this small picture, probably painted by Jan van Goyen, seems to do just the opposite. It’s light and airy, with a patch of sun on glowing soil, and tiny, almost comical, trees, their branches misty with delicate new leaves. Puffy clouds float across the sky on a breath. It seems to be an image of spring that brings the fresh air in to its viewers.

The painting was once thought to be by someone imitating van Goyen’s style but in 1958, when it was cleaned, a figure in the foreground and other details added by a different artist were all removed. Cleaning also revealed van Goyen’s monogram, making it probable that it is his work painted early in his career. He was already experimenting with the muted, limited colours for which he became famous.

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