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Paysage avec un pont en bois

Prints and Drawings
17th century

Author(s):
Maget Antoinette

This drawing of a peaceful landscape dates from the very beginning of the seventeenth century and is a particularly important work in the output of the Dutch painter Gillis Clasz Hondecoeter. Few preparatory drawings by Hondecoeter are extant, and the attribution of this work to him is recent. The drawing marks the start of a new direction - a new sense of nature - in the work of Hondecoeter, whose forests are usually populated with animals.

Sleepy Water

The foreground of this drawing is taken up by a peaceful stretch of water with overhanging trees whose trunks are knotted, but sturdy and slender, still almost mannerist in the way in which they are drawn. Hondecoeter's trees are almost ornamental in character and tend to be much more decorative than those seen in works of certain of Hondecoeter's contemporaries, such as David Vinckboons. On the right-hand side of the drawing, a vista of the surrounding countryside and a village opens up, the village seemingly clinging to the sides of a simply outlined hill. The composition, which consists (from left to right) of a tree, a stretch of water, and a distant landscape, might be compared with an etching by Hieronymus Cock after a drawing by Pieter Brueghel (The Temptation of Christ). The etching was much admired by many artists, and Hondecoeter made use of it in other works. It is not unusual to find motifs borrowed from other painters in the woodland views of Hondecoeter's early period. Following the scheme from left to right, from the definite to the hazy, from darkness to light, could be interpreted as a progression from Hondecoeter's earlier indebtedness to other artists to artistic freedom.

Prelude to a Concert

Gillis d'Hondecoeter was the son of an aristocratic Flemish family and settled in Delft in 1601, together with his father (who was his teacher) and his brother (who was also a painter). He then moved to Utrecht, where he was to live until 1610, before settling in Amsterdam. In 1636, just two years before his death, Hondecoeter is listed as the guildmaster of the painters' guild in Amsterdam. This woodland landscape was probably made in Utrecht, in the first few years of the seventeenth century. Parallels with Hondecoeter's first dated painting (Landscape with a Musical Gathering, painted in 1602 and now in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa) make this dating extremely likely, since there is a notable degree of similarity between the left-hand sides of the two works.

Changes in influence

Hondecoeter's landscapes show the influence of Gillis van Coninxloo, Roelandt Savery, and David Vinckboons. However, this drawing illustrates a new compositional direction in Hondecoeter's development as a landscape painter. Hitherto, his landscapes had been home to wildlife that was often fantastical and marked by a dense, solid, and somewhat schematic construction reminiscent of the work of Flemish artists of the sixteenth century. Here, Hondecoeter is moving toward a more airy staging of his landscapes, one that conveys a new understanding of nature. In addition to the developing sensitivity of Hondecoeter's depictions, the influences on his work change at this time; the works he completed after this point could more readily be compared with those of van de Velde, for example.

Bibliography

W. Schulz, Paysagistes hollandais (1600-1740) du Cabinet des Estampes de Berlin, Berlin, 1974, p. 43
E. Starcky, Inventaire Général des dessins des Ecoles du Nord - Supplément à l'inventaire F. Lugt, Paris : R.M.N, 1988, n 236, p. 166, repr.
J. de Maere, M. Wabbes, Illustrated Dictionary of 17th century Flemish Painters, Bruxelles : La Renaissance du Livre, 1994, 3 volumes (Texte, p. 218)

En savoir plus
T. Gerszi, "L'influence de Pieter Bruegel sur l'art du paysage de David Vinckboons et de Gillis d'Hondecoutre", in Bulletin du Musée hongrois des Beaux-Arts, n 53, Budapest, 1979, pp. 125 à 136

Technical description

  • Gillis Claesz D'HONDECOETER (Antwerp 1575-Amsterdam 1638)

    Wooded Landscape with a River and a Bridge

    First half of the seventeenth century

  • Pen and brown ink, brown wash, white highlights, traces of black chalk

    H. 34.1 cm; W. 42.1 cm

  • Pierre-Jean Mariette collection; purchased for the Cabinet du Roi at the sale of the collection, Paris, 1 November 1775, no. 1043.

    3918806

  • 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

Inscribed on recto, bottom left, in pen and brown ink: 'Strudel F'; on verso, in pen and brown ink: 'Hand I fiamingo'.