Ludolf Backhuysen (Emden 1630-1708 Amsterdam) A river landscape, most probably the Merwede, with figures departing on a ferry,
Lot 31
Ludolf Backhuysen
(Emden 1630-1708 Amsterdam)
A river landscape, most probably the Merwede, with figures departing on a ferry,
£10,000 - 15,000
US$ 17,000 - 25,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
Ludolf Backhuysen (Emden 1630-1708 Amsterdam)
A river landscape, most probably the Merwede, with figures departing on a ferry, a horseman and maid on the bank, the tower of the Grote Kerk, Dordrecht, in the distance
oil on canvas
51.2 x 70.5cm (20 3/16 x 27 3/4in).

Footnotes

  • We are grateful to Dr Gerlinde de Beer for confirming the attribution to Backhuysen on the basis of a colour photograph. She has suggested a relatively late date of execution for the painting of the last decade of the 17th century.

    Whilst Backhuysen is undoubtedly best known for his marine paintings, the present work finds numerous comparisons of a similar date within the artist's oeuvre. His Arrival of William III in the Oranjepolder on 31 January 1691, signed and dated 1692, (now in the Mauritshuis, The Hague) provides an excellent example of the painter's stage-like setting of the figures. In this and other works of a similar date, he creates the form of his figures with very soft modelling and then sets them against a more thinly painted background. A view in Amsterdam with a maid flirting with a knife grinder on a canal (sale, Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 14 November 2006, lot 107) is also dated by Dr de Beer to this later stage in Backhuysen's career. The choice and execution of the figures is typical for the painter at this date. For example, the man seated in the ferry with his back to us and the old man nearby both come very close to those in the foreground of Backhuysen's signed English yachts before the coast with figures of 1691 (previously with Hans Cramer, The Hague, see G. de Beer, Ludolf Backhuysen, Sein Leben und Werk, Zwolle, 2002, no. 72, p.125, ill.148). The more moderate colouring and the yellow-reddish tonality also mark the present painting out as a later work.

    The distinctive square profile of the church in the background is most probably that of the Grote Kerk of Dordrecht and the river therefore the Merwede. The ferry, which is just departing, carries not only people but also cattle and sheep which are perhaps being brought in from pasture, suggesting that this picture depicts an autumnal day, an idea further strengthened by the yellowing leaves on the tree. The horseman on the bank is being offered a glass of wine, perhaps because he has a wait ahead of him.

    Landscapes with figures and pastoral scenes are much more common later on in Backhuysen's career. This may have been due to the prevailing tastes of the time. By the last decade of the 17th century Dutch maritime power had started to vain and with it their interest in marine painting. They were by now starting to look towards French models for artistic inspiration.
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