A dune landscape with travellers near an inn, a church in the distance
signed with initials and dated 'VG 1642' (lower left)
oil on panel
35.3 x 44.8 cm. (1378 x 1758 in.)
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, Amsterdam, 7 May 2013, lot 83, where acquired by the present owner (€49.500).
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Lot Essay

The present picture is characteristic of van Goyen's work in the early 1640s, when the artist reached the pinnacle of his creative work. At this time van Goyen's palette was moving away from the brown-green tones that he used in the early 1630s towards a more austerely monochromatic yellow and golden brown tonal range. Although he employed a restricted palette, he was able to capture an enormous range of atmospheric effects and achieve a masterly sense of depth in his compositions. This was partly achieved by his expert use of a transparent ground, which allowed the natural grain of the wooden panel to appear through the oil glazes, most notably in the sky, and by his masterly swift handling of the brush with thick impasto in the sunlit parts of the dune landscape and inn in the present composition. Here, the depth is further enhanced by the low view point, with a vividly rendered carriage at the highest point and only the tip of a church spire at the low horizon to the far right.

By the end of the 1630s Jan van Goyen had achieved notable recognition as one of the leading landscapists of his generation as well as a certain amount of stability in his private life. Despite losing a great deal of money in 1637, supposedly through a failed venture in the tulip market, he was able to buy a house on the Singelgracht in The Hague in 1639 and was appointed head of the Guild of Saint Luke in the city in 1638, and again in 1640. In the 1640s he was astonishingly productive and also intermittently active as an art dealer, auctioneer and estate agent.

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