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Work Banks of a Canal with a Jetty Leading to a Cottage

Department of Prints and Drawings: 17th century

Bords d'un canal avec un débarcadère conduisant à une masure

RMN-Grand Palais - Photo T. Querrec

Prints and Drawings
17th century

Maget Antoinette

Jan van Goyen's Fisherman's House gives us a lively glimpse of the life of humble river fishermen. The same motif is used in two of his paintings, in a poetic rendering of peaceful, familiar everyday activities. The whole scene is bathed in a silvery gray atmosphere, and the mists shrouding the distant view barely distract the eye from the scene in the foreground.

Lifting the bow nets

A fisherman's house is built on the left bank of a peaceful, winding fish-filled river. In front of the house, two men, a woman, and a child seem to be counting or sorting the fish that a fifth figure is lifting out of a half-submerged bow net hoisted up on a winch. On the right, two men are standing in a boat loaded with a corf or eel pot. The far right of the drawing offers a distant view of a lime kiln and a bell tower. The artist has expressed one of his favorite motifs: the simplicity of a humble house by the river, its sloping roof rising above men and women going about their ancestral occupations, and a boat drawing near to the bank. The motif van Goyen has chosen here can be found in two paintings - one in the Petit Palais, Paris, the other, The Cottage Beside the River, in Leipzig - as well as in a drawing in Weimar.

From one season to another

Jan van Goyen was born in Leyden in 1596 and by 1632 was working in The Hague, where he died in 1656. His work can be divided into four main periods. This drawing belongs to the last phase of his career, after a series of paintings of the seasons, often contrasted (winter opposite summer within a tondo). Dated 1653, three years before van Goyen's death, this drawing is characteristic of his style. In his last works, including The Fisherman's House, van Goyen surpassed the work of his master Esaias van de Velde. He developed greater freedom in interpretation and execution, and attained unusual maturity in his handling of space, planes, and light. In addition, his drawings are infused with a grave, melancholic poetic mood.

A fresh look at landscape

Van Goyen belonged to the "new" group of Dutch landscape artists that appeared in the 18th century. Their movement broke with the tradition of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and focused on the countryside of contemporary Holland. One of their precursors was Esaias van de Velde, who played a leading role in the renewal of landscape painting. These artists studied the primary forces of nature, seasonal changes, the wind and the clouds, and the powerful effect of climatic variations, without seeking to embellish or attenuate them. Their landscapes can be interpreted as chronicles of the weather.


F. Lugt, Inventaire général des Dessins des Écoles du Nord, École hollandaise, Paris, Éditions Albert Morancé, 1929, Tome I, n 306, p. 44, pl. LIV.
R. Bacou, Dessins du Louvre, Écoles allemande, flamande, hollandaise, Paris, 1968, n 76.
R. Bacou, Rembrandt et son temps - Dessins des collections publiques et privées en France, Paris, musée du Louvre, 1970, n 74.
H.-U. Beck, Jan van Goyen 1596-1656 - Ein Oeuvresverzeichnis, Amsterdam, 3 volumes (1, Einführung Katalog der Handzeichnungen, 1972, 2, Katalog der Gemälde, 1973, 3, Ergänzungsband, 1987).
H.-U. Beck, Künstler um Jan van Goyen, Doornspijk, Davaco, 1991.
C. Vogelaar, Jan van Goyen, Leiden, Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, 2001.

Technical description

  • Jan van GOYEN (Leyden 1596 --The Hague 1656)

    Banks of a Canal with a Jetty Leading to a Cottage


    (Aimé-Charles) Horace His de la Salle Collection

  • Black chalk, gray wash, washed with India ink

    H. 17.20 cm; W. 27.20 cm

  • Gift from Horace His de la Salle, 1878

    The Fisherman's House

    RF 841

  • 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

Signed and dated lower left in black chalk: V G 1653