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Work Hut by a Pond

Department of Prints and Drawings: 17th century

Une pauvre masure au bord d'un cours d'eau

Prints and Drawings
17th century

Author(s):
Maget Antoinette

This virtuoso treatment of a commonplace subject is the work of Dutch artist Pieter Molyn. The simple peasant house in a typical Dutch landscape is typical of this artist, who drew his subjects from his own immediate environment. Together with Esaias van de Velde and Jan van Goyen, he was responsible for a renaissance in Dutch landscape art, paving the way for Jacob van Ruisdael.

A dilapidated hut

The left hand side of the drawing is occupied by a dilapidated hut that stands beside a pond. On the right, a peasant woman is walking away towards a wooden fence. This figure plays no particular role, its contribution being only "spiritual". The fact that the woman is seen from the back underlines this: she is a mere embellishment to the drawing, which radiates a sense of poverty and solitude. The vegetation is sparse, birds fly through a gray sky: everything suggests autumn.

Pupil and teacher in Haarlem

Pieter Molyn lived in Haarlem, one of the most influential artistic centers of the 17th century, where with Jan van Goyen, Esaias van de Velde and Willem Buytewech there emerged a school of painting to rival that of Amsterdam. Molyn became a member of the Guild of St Luke in 1616, and was the teacher of Gerard Ter Borch, who came to train with him around 1633. Molyn came to prominence about the same time as van Goyen, although the latter was a little behind in his spatial organization: while Molyn arranges the various elements on the diagonal, van Goyen's structuring principle remains the succession of receding planes.

The demands of the market

Pieter Molyn was a master of many techniques but he drew almost exclusively in black chalk; if his landscapes executed in the early 17th century can sometimes seem a little repetitive, those of his last creative years are characterized by a remarkable dynamism and mastery of color. The artist often depicted the dunes around Haarlem: the natural environment and the landscapes around the city provided him with his favorite subjects. One of the features of Molyn's artistic production is its responsiveness to the market: buyers wanted individual, original works, so the artist repeated his compositions. One thus finds works in two or three copies, each by the hand of the artist himself.

Bibliography

F. Lugt, Inventaire général des Dessins des Écoles du Nord, École hollandaise, Paris, Éditions Albert Morancé, 1929, Tome I, n 473, p. 68.
R. Bacou, Rembrandt et son temps - Dessins des collections publiques et privées en France, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 1970, n 66.
H.-U. Beck, Pieter Molijn 1595-1661 - Katalog der Handzeichnungen, Doornspijk : Davaco, 1998, n 415, p. 190.
H.-U. Beck, "Pieter Molyn and his Duplicate Drawings", in Master Drawings, vol. 35, n 4, 1997, pp. 341-366.

Technical description

  • Pieter MolynLondon 1595 - Haarlem 1661

    Hut by a Pond

    c.1665

  • Black chalk and gray wash

    H. 14.9 cm; W. 19.7 cm

  • His de la Salle Collection; gift, 1878

    40678

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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Additional information about the work

Signature in black chalk, partly obliterated, at bottom left