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Key facts
Full title A View of a Village
Artist Roelof van Vries
Artist dates 1630/1 - after 1681
Date made about 1660-5
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 64.8 x 49 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lt-Col. J.H. Ollney, 1837
Inventory number NG134
Location Not on display
A View of a Village
Roelof van Vries

Two figures stand and sit in the shadows at the edge of a wood and contemplate an ancient church almost shrouded in trees. Light filters down a pathway between them, giving an eerie feeling to the image. The picture has lost some of its colour and vibrancy, but even so it brings the imagination into play: the atmosphere; the figures in silhouette so we have no idea what they look like; the dark doorways of the church, hardly encouraging entry.

Small enigmatic figures dwarfed by the old buildings they contemplate make a common theme in van Vries’s paintings – why is this person here, will he go in through the door, what might happen next? The images seem to invite you to make your own interpretation of the scene, not just once but many times.

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